Household chaos is a construct often overlooked in studies of human development, despite its theoretical links with the integrity of individual well-being, family processes, and child development. The present longitudinal study examined relations between household chaos and well-established correlates of chaos (sociodemographic risk, major life events, and personal distress) and several constructs that, to date, are theoretically linked with chaos but never before assessed as correlates (quality of coparenting and emotional availability with infants at bedtime). In addressing this aim, we introduce a new measure of household chaos (the Descriptive In-home Survey of Chaos-Observer ReporteD, or DISCORD), wholly reliant on independent observer report, which draws from household chaos theory and prior empirical work but extends the measurement of chaos to include information about families' compliance with a home visiting protocol. Household chaos was significantly associated with socioeconomic risk, negative life events, less favorable coparenting, and less emotionally available bedtime parenting, but not with personal distress. These findings emphasize the need to examine household chaos as a direct and indirect influence on child and family outcomes, as a moderator of intervention attempts to improving parenting and child development, and as a target of intervention in its own right.
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