Family-level conflict and cohesion are well-established predictors of adolescent mental health. However, traditional approaches focusing on between-family differences in cohesion and conflict may overlook daily intrafamily variability that might provide important new information. We used data from a 21-day daily diary protocol in a sample of 151 caregivers (95.3% female) and their adolescent child (61.5% female) in two-caregiver families to test whether daily changes in family functioning are associated with daily changes in adolescent well-being and whether adolescent well-being depends on average levels of family functioning. We examined family cohesion and conflict in relation to adolescent angry, depressed, and anxious mood, as well as happiness, life satisfaction, and meaning and purpose in life in multilevel models. Both cohesion and conflict exhibited meaningful daily variation. Adolescent-reported cohesion and conflict had unique within-family associations with all six adolescent outcomes. Models using parent reports of family functioning yielded fewer associations than models with adolescent reports; however, several findings remained. Cross-level interactions indicated that within-family variations in cohesion were only associated with adolescent depression in families with lower average levels of cohesion across days. In sum, this study provides compelling evidence that families exhibit meaningful variability from day to day and that daily variation has important implications for adolescent well-being.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)