Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 213–232 | Cite as

Coping with Interparental Verbal Conflict by Children Exposed to Spouse Abuse and Children from Nonviolent Homes

  • Jackie L. Adamson
  • Ross A. Thompson


Children are distressed by parental conflict, but the influence of the conflict topic has rarely been studied, especially in relation to children's history of witnessing domestic conflict. Responses to three conflict topics (money, child-related, political candidate) were examined in two groups of 5 1/2-through 12-year-olds: 40 children who have witnessed spouse abuse and 72 children from nonviolent homes. Children listened to taped scenarios (with accompanying drawings) of two parents engaged in one friendly and three angry interactions. Children reported their feelings, intensity of feelings, and coping strategies. Children's emotional responses varied from sadness, to anger, to guilt depending on their age and the conflict topic. Primary control strategies for coping with family conflict (e.g., direct intervention) were favored for all. Boys from violent homes responded to certain simulated conflicts with more intense anger and sadness than other children. Results emphasized children's sensitivity to different conflict topics and advance understanding of relations between a history of witnessing spouse abuse and child outcomes.

children exposed to family violence coping family conflict spouse abuse marital discord 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jackie L. Adamson
  • Ross A. Thompson

There are no affiliations available

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