The Role of Psychological Flexibility in the Relationship Between Parent and Adolescent Distress

Danielle N. Moyer, Emily K. Sandoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Every day, parents must navigate a role that is at the same time both very rewarding and very stressful. Coping with the balance between stress and reward can have immediate and long-term effects for both parents and children, including ineffective parenting strategies. Emotional difficulties, such as anxiety and depression, increase the risk for these ineffective parenting strategies. The impact of parental distress on family functioning is further complicated by the relatively high correlation between parent distress and child distress. The literature seems to suggest that a lack of openness to experience and difficulties with goal-directed behavior may moderate this relationship. From a functional contextual perspective, psychological flexibility, or the ability to adapt to emotional and situational demands in the service of chosen values, may play a role in this phenomenon. More specifically, we hypothesized that parenting flexibility, or flexibility specifically within the context of parenting, would moderate the relationship between parent and child distress. Parents (n = 71) and adolescents (n = 21) completed online surveys assessing their distress and psychological flexibility, and parents completed an additional measure of parenting flexibility. Results demonstrate a trend toward parenting flexibility as a possible moderator in the relationship between parent and child distress, and a clear need for additional research in this area. Implications for targeting inflexibility in interventions for children and families are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1406-1418
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Parenting flexibility
  • Psychological flexibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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