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Links between marital and parent-child interactions: moderating role of husband-to-wife aggression.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Development and Psychopathology
0954-5794
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Volume
16
Issue
3
Pages
753–771
Identifiers
PMID: 15605635
Source
Medline

Abstract

The present study examined how marital conflict may compromise parenting by identifying interdependencies across marital and parent-child subsystems in a sample of 86 two-parent families with a child aged 9-13. The study used direct observation of three family discussions to examine interdependencies across family subsystems. The study also assessed whether a history of husband-to-wife aggression strengthened interdependencies. Overall, families with husband-to-wife aggression showed a negative tone that pervaded throughout the family. Consistent with theories about physically aggressive men tending to withdraw from conflict, fathers who had engaged in husband-to-wife aggression showed an association between marital hostilities and lower levels of empathy toward their children. Consistent with stress theories, women who had been exposed to husband-to-wife aggression showed a link between marital hostilities and negative affect when interacting with their children. These findings illustrate how a history of exposure to marital aggression can create a family environment of multiple risks for children. For children in families with prior marital aggression, ongoing marital hostilities can be linked to the additional risk of erosions in parental support.

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