McNair Scholar 2018 Kimberly Knourek

Kimberly Knourek is a rising senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is majoring in Child Psychology and minoring in Family Social Science. Her research interests include resilience of children and families, mental health, and culture. After graduation, Kimberly intends on attending graduate school and pursuing a career in the mental health field.

Kimberly Knourek headshot
My dream is to be a supporter and advocate for those in need of mental health care, specifically working with children and their families from a range of diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Research project

Effects of Parent Stress and Distress on Parenting Quality and Child Behavior

Abstract: This study explored how parenting stress and distress affect parenting quality and child behavior outcomes in families experiencing homelessness. Understanding the experiences of these families is essential to evaluating the effects of adversity and informing interventions to promote positive child outcomes. Data were collected at homeless shelters with parents and their 4- to 6-year-old children (N = 109 dyads). Parents answered questionnaires regarding their perceived stress, family background, and child behavior, and also spoke about their child and their relationship together for five minutes. Results showed that parent perceived stress and distress were not related to parenting quality. Parent perceived stress was a significant predictor of worse child outcomes with parenting included in the model, consistent with a direct effect of parent stress on child problem behavior. However, parenting warmth was associated with better child behavior, highlighting the importance of effective caregivers in contexts of acute stress. These findings suggest that interventions with homeless and highly mobile families could focus on both alleviating parent stress and bolstering positive parent-child relationships.

Faculty mentor

Dr. Ann S. Masten is Regents Professor and Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development in the Institute of Child Development. After completing her undergraduate degree at Smith College, she worked as a research assistant at the National Institutes of Health for a clinical psychologist, Dr. David Shakow. At NIH, Shakow introduced her to Norman Garmezy an engaging and world famous professor at the University of Minnesota. She became intrigued with his new research on what would later be called resilience. After 3 years at NIH, she moved to Minnesota so she could study clinical psychology and do research with Dr. Garmezy. Dr. Masten completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and continued with research. In 1986, she joined the faculty of the Institute of Child Development. She is past President of the Society for Research in Child Development and Division 7 (Developmental) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and recipient from APA of the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society. Dr. Masten has been a helpful and caring mentor to McNair Scholars since 1992.