Farnsworth, M. L., & O'Neal, C. W. (2022). How work‐related guilt informs parenting and adolescent psychological distress in military families. Family Relations.


The current study examined inconsistent discipline as a linking mechanism connecting parental guilt about work to adolescent psychological distress in military families.


Military families may face tensions connected to competing demands of family and the military career, which can produce a sense of parental guilt. This guilt may contribute to poor parenting behaviors, such as inconsistent discipline, which can be detrimental for adolescents (e.g., leading to depression and anxiety).


A structural equation model with data from 223 military families (i.e., active duty father, civilian mother, and adolescent) examined the associations among parental guilt, inconsistent discipline, and adolescent psychological distress.


Active duty fathers’ guilt and inconsistent discipline were related to their perceptions of adolescent psychological distress, whereas civilian mothers’ guilt was indirectly related to both their own and their partner’s perceptions of adolescent psychological distress through their inconsistent discipline.


Inconsistent discipline is a parenting behavior related to parental guilt and adolescent psychological distress. More research is needed to better understand the nuances of military contexts for families.


Inconsistent discipline is a specific, malleable parenting behavior with implications for prevention and intervention programs designed for military families as well as family-related policies in the military.