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The personal and marital adjustment of parents as related to observed child deviance and parenting behaviors

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The purpose of this study was to document the relationship of parents' personal and marital adjustment to their own behavior as parents and the behavior of their children. A total of 31 families who had been referred for behavioral counseling regarding their male child's behavior problems were given a diagnostic battery which included home observations as well as administration to parents of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the LockeWallace Marital Adjustment Test. Results revealed consistent negative relationships between marital satisfaction and the observed level of child deviance. Similarly, there were consistent negative relationships between marital satisfaction and the level of observed “negativeness” to the child. Analyses using the MMPI indicated that a large number of the fathers ' MMPI scales were related to child deviance, but this finding was not replicated for mothers. Several MMPI scales were related to marital satisfaction for both parents. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for the assessment and treatment of families with a problem child.

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Correspondence to Dr Stephen M. Johnson.

Additional information

The preparation of this manuscript and the research reported herein were supported by research grant MH 19633 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors would like to express their appreciation to Orin Bolstad and Sheila Eyberg for their assistance in data collection for this project and to W. Charles Lobitz for his editorial assistance on the manuscript.

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Johnson, S.M., Lobitz, G.K. The personal and marital adjustment of parents as related to observed child deviance and parenting behaviors. J Abnorm Child Psychol 2, 193–207 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00918887

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  • Behavior Problem
  • Negative Relationship
  • Parenting Behavior
  • Male Child
  • Marital Satisfaction