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The role of family conflict and marital conflict in adolescent functioning


Recent research has suggested that general family conflict is more disruptive to child functioning than is marital conflict. We hypothesized, in contrast to earlier work, that marital conflict will contribute unique variance to our understanding of child functioning but only when it occurs in front of children. One hundred and forty-six mother/adolescent pairs served as participants. Mothers completed measures of marital and general family conflict. Both mothers and teachers completed measures on child functioning at two points in time separated by 1 year. Consistent with the earlier findings, general family conflict was more predictive of child adjustment problems than marital satisfaction. However, marital conflict occurring in front of the child was equally predictive of child problem behaviors as was general family conflict.

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David, C., Steele, R., Forehand, R. et al. The role of family conflict and marital conflict in adolescent functioning. J Fam Viol 11, 81–91 (1996).

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Key Words

  • family conflict
  • marital conflict
  • adolescent functioning