Developmental cascade effects of a parenting-focused program for divorced families on competence in emerging adulthood

Sharlene A. Wolchik, Jenn Yun Tein, Emily Winslow, Jessy Minney, Irwin N. Sandler, Ann S. Masten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This 15-year longitudinal follow-up of a randomized controlled trial of a parenting-focused preventive intervention for divorced families examined cascade models of program effects on offsprings' competence. It was hypothesized that intervention-induced improvements in parenting would lead to better academic, work, peer, and romantic competence in emerging adulthood through effects on behavior problems and competencies during adolescence. Families (N = 240) participated in the 11-session program or literature control condition when children were ages 9-12. Data were drawn from assessments at pretest, posttest, and follow-ups at 3 and 6 months and 6 and 15 years. Results showed that initial intervention effects of parenting on externalizing problems in adolescence cascaded to work outcomes in adulthood. Parenting effects also directly impacted work success. For work outcomes and peer competence, intervention effects were moderated by initial risk level; the program had greater effects on youths with higher risk at program entry. In addition, intervention effects on parenting led to fewer externalizing problems that in turn cascaded to better academic outcomes, which showed continuity into emerging adulthood. Results highlight the potential for intervention effects of the New Beginnings Program to cascade over time to affect adult competence in multiple domains, particularly for high-risk youths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-215
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • cascade effects
  • competence
  • divorce
  • emerging adulthood
  • parenting-after-divorce programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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