Original Paper

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 287-297

First online:

Emotional Development in the Context of Conflict: The Indirect Effects of Interparental Violence on Children

  • Christopher DehonAffiliated withHillside Children’s Center Email author 
  • , Carl F. WeemsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of New Orleans

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Our study examined the links between interparental violence and children’s internalizing and externalizing problems by testing a theoretical model for indirect pathways from interparental violence to childhood emotional problems. Our theoretical model suggests that interparental violence is associated with maternal depression, maternal depression is associated with the use of maladaptive parenting practices, and maternal maladaptive parenting practices are associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems. Participants included 359 women and one of their children between the ages of 5- and 12-years-old. Sixty-four of these women resided in a battered women’s shelter, 100 of these women resided in the community but had a history of interparental violence, and 195 of these women were recruited as a comparison sample. Our theoretical model was supported by the results of structural equation modeling. However, a variation of the broader indirect pathway, one which indicates that interparental violence is related to children’s internalizing and externalizing problems through maternal depression, which is then directly associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems, was also supported. Results are discussed in terms of their theoretical and applied implications and suggest that longitudinal studies that clarify temporal relationships in the model are warranted.


Violence Internalizing Externalizing Context Indirect effects