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The effects of stress and social support on externalizing behaviors among children in military families

APA Citation:

Sumner, J., Boisvert, D., & Andersen, J. (2016). The effects of stress and social support on externalizing behaviors among children in military families. Deviant Behavior, 37(3), 246-262. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2015.1012403

Abstract Created by REACH:

Stress and the ways that families cope with stress often have a large impact on children's behavior, which may be particularly relevant for military families. This study investigated externalizing behaviors among military children and associations with family stress and social support. Findings indicated that, while military wives with high stress levels reported greater child externalizing behavior, strong social support among military wives served as a protective factor against the effects of stress and was related to lower levels of child externalizing behavior.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Coast Guard
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Military families
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Sumner, Jennifer, Boisvert, Danielle, Andersen, Judith P.


Drawing on social support theory, this study examines the main and interactive effects of parental perceived stress and social support on externalizing behaviors in military youth. Findings reveal that not only do social support and stress affect the conduct of military children, but social support also moderately buffers the effects of parental stress. Given the increasing distance between military and American culture, more generally, this research is one opportunity to make sense of contradictory expectations about the well-being of military youth. In doing so, it provides implications for how a more supportive organization can benefit military families.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

California State University, JS
Sam Houston State University, DB
University of Toronto Mississauga, JPA


stress, social support, externalization, children of military personnel, subjective well-being

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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