Parental Dysphoria and Children’s Adjustment: Marital Conflict Styles, Children’s Emotional Security, and Parenting as Mediators of Risk
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Dimensions of martial conflict, children's emotional security regarding interparental conflict, and parenting style were examined as mediators between parental dysphoria and child adjustment. A community sample of 262 children, ages 8–16, participated with their parents. Behavioral observations were made of parents’ interactions during marital conflict resolution tasks, which children later observed to assess their emotional security. Questionnaires assessed parents’ dysphoria, parenting, and children's adjustment. Structural equation modeling indicated that parental dysphoria was linked with child adjustment through specific and distinct mediating family processes, including marital conflict and parenting. Children's emotional security in the context of particular marital conflict styles also mediated relations between parental dysphoria and child adjustment problems, with similar pathways found for mothers and fathers. These pathways remained significant even after significant parenting contributions were considered.