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Hope and Optimism as Human Strengths in Parents of Children With Externalizing Disorders: Stress is in the Eye of the Beholder
Abstract and Figures
We examined hope as a potential resiliency factor for the daily strains of raising children with disruptive behavior disorders. In light of the motivational component of hope theory, initiating and sustaining effort toward goals (i.e., agency), we were interested in hope's relation to constructs addressing self-esteem, familial functioning, and stress. Two hundred, fifty-two parents of children with externalizing disorders completed self-report questionnaires. Significant associations were foundamong hope and parental and familial functioning indices (e.g., warm and nurturing parenting styles, cohesive and active family environment, adaptive coping strategies). Considering their conceptual overlap, we tested the unique predictive power of hope and optimistic attributions on indices of psychological functioning. Separate regressions indicated that hope significantly predicted psychological functioning beyond what was accounted for by social desirability, the severity of child symptoms, and optimistic attributions. Hope agency compared to hope pathways (i.e., perceived ability to generate strategies to obtain goals) accounted for the vast amount of variance in regression models. In contrast, optimistic attributions failed to predict any of the variables of interest. Treatment and prevention strategies are suggested with an integrated focus on both the disruptive behaviors of children and parental character traits.
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