Family routines and child problem behaviors in fragile families: The role of social demographic and contextual factors

Yuerong Liu, Darcey H. Merritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Family routines are important for both the family functioning and a child's physical and behavioral health. This study aims to untangle whether regularity ofregu family routine at age nine are associated with child internalizing and externalizing behaviors at age 15, and whether social demographic and contextual factors (i.e., child gender, maternal race, and poverty status) moderate these associations. This study utilizes data from waves five and six of the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (N = 2,578, 52% male, ages 9–15). Results indicated that mother-child participation in indoor activities was related to fewer child internalizing behaviors. Talking about current events and checking homework were associated with fewer externalizing behaviors, while playing computer games was related to more externalizing behaviors. Child gender, maternal race, and poverty status emerged as salient moderators, such that playing computer games had a stronger influence on increased externalizing behaviors of boys compared to girls. Conversations about current events and completing household chores were especially important for non-Hispanic Black children in the reduction of problem behaviors; yet reading books and talking with children about their day resulted in increased child problem behaviors among those living in poverty. The findings of this study highlight a need for culturally sensitive research and interventions that consider the relationships among socio-demographic factors, family routines and child behavioral issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106187
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Externalizing behavior
  • Family routine
  • Fragile families
  • Internalizing behavior
  • Social contextual factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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