Advertisement

Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 437–452 | Cite as

Marital Satisfaction and Child Adjustment: Direct and Mediated Pathways

  • Elizabeth A. Fishman
  • Steven A. Meyers
Article

Abstract

We explored whether there is a direct association between marital satisfaction and children's psychological adjustment. We also investigated a competing model to assess whether marital satisfaction is indirectly related to child outcomes through its associations with parents' depression and involvement in childrearing. Analyses of data from 1,101 participants in the National Survey of Families and Households indicated that mothers' and fathers' reports of marital satisfaction were significantly associated with child symptomatology. Moreover, mothers who experienced marital dissatisfaction were less involved with their children, which in turn was associated with greater child psychological distress. This mediated pathway was not significant for fathers.

marital satisfaction child psychopathology parent-child involvement 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173-1182.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: A process model. Child Development, 55, 83-96.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Belsky, J., Youngblade, L., Rovine, M., & Volling, B. (1991). Patterns of marital change and parent-child interaction. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53, 487-498.Google Scholar
  4. Booth, A., & Amato, P. R. (1994). Parental marital quality, parental divorce, and relations with parents. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56, 21-24.Google Scholar
  5. Bornstein, M. T., Bornstein, P. H., & Walters, H. A. (1985). Children of divorce: A group treatment manual for research and application. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2, 267-273.Google Scholar
  6. Bratton, S. C. (1998). Training parents to facilitate their children's adjustment to divorce using the filial/play therapy approach. In J. M. Briesmeister & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Handbook of parent training: Parents as co-therapists for children's behavior problems (2nd ed.) (pp. 549-572). New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Brody, G. N., Pillegrini, A. D., & Sigel, I. E. (1986). Marital quality and the mother-child and father-child interactions with school-aged children. Developmental Psychology, 22, 291-296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burroughs, M. S., Wagner, W. W., & Johnson, J. T. (1997). Treatment with children of divorce: A comparison of two types of therapy. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 27(3/4), 83-99. Google Scholar
  9. Colletta, N. D. (1983). At risk for depression: A study of young mothers. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 142, 301-310.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Cox, A. D., Puckering, C., Pound, A., & Mills, M. (1987). The impact of maternal depression in young children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 28, 917-928.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cox, M. J., Owen, M. T., Lewis, J. M., & Henderson, V. K. (1989). Marriage, adult adjustment, and early parenting. Child Development, 60, 1015-1024.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Crnic, K. A., Greenberg, M. T., Ragozin, A. S., Robinson, N. M., & Basham, R. P. (1983). Effects of stress and social support on mothers and premature and full-term infants. Child Development, 54, 209-217.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dadds, M. R. (1987). Families and origins of child behavior problems. Family Process, 26, 341-357.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dehle, C., & Weiss, R. L. (1998). Sex differences in prospective associations between marital quality and depressed mood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 1002-1011.Google Scholar
  15. Downey, G., & Coyne, J. C. (1990). Children of depressed parents: An integrative review. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 50-76.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Emery, R. E. (1982). Interparental conflict and the children of discord and divorce. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 310-330.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Emery, R. E., & O'Leary, K. D. (1982). Children's perceptions of marital discord and behavioral problems of boys and girls. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 10, 11-24.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Emery, R. E., & O'Leary, K D. (1984). Marital discord and child behavior problems in a non-clinic sample. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 12, 411-420.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Emmelkamp, P. M. G., de Haan, E., & Hoogduin, C. A. L. (1990). Marital adjustment and obsessive-compulsive disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 55-60.Google Scholar
  20. Erel, O., & Burman, B. (1995). Interrelatedness of marital relations and parent-child relations: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 108-132.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Fauber, R., Forehand, R., Thomas, A. M., & Wierson, M. (1990). A mediational model of the impact of marital conflict on adolescent adjustment in intact and divorced families: The role of disrupted parenting. Child Development, 61, 1112-1123.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Fincham, F. D. (1994). Understanding the association between marital conflict and child adjustment: Overview. Journal of Family Psychology, 8, 123-127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fincham, F. D., Grych, J. H., & Osborne, L. N. (1994). Does marital conflict cause child maladjustment? Directions and challenges for longitudinal research. Journal of Family Psychology, 8, 128-140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Forehand, R., Long, N., Brody, G. H., & Fauber, R. (1986). Home predictors of young adolescents' school behavior and academic performance. Child Development, 57, 1528-1533.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Glick, I. D., Clarkin, J. F., & Kessler, D. R. (1987). Marital and family therapy. New York: Grune & Stratton.Google Scholar
  26. Goldberg, W. A. (1990). Marital quality, parental personality, and spousal agreement about perceptions and expectations for children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 36, 531-556.Google Scholar
  27. Goldberg, W. A., & Easterbrooks, A. M. (1984). Role of marital quality in toddler development. Developmental Psychology, 20, 504-514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gottman, J. M. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically based marital therapy. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  29. Gottman, J. M., & Katz, L. F. (1989). Effects of marital discord on young children's peer interaction and health. Developmental Psychology, 25, 373-381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hops, H., Biglan, A., Sherman, L., Arthur, J., Friedman, L., & Osteen, V. (1987). Home observations of family interactions of depressed women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 341-346.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Howes, P., & Markman, H. J. (1989). Marital quality and child functioning: A longitudinal investigation. Child Development, 60, 1044-1051.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Jacobson, N. S., & Gurman, A. S. (Eds.) (1986). Clinical handbook of marital therapy. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Jaycox, L. H., & Repetti, R. L. (1993). Conflict in families and the psychological adjustment of preadolescent children. Journal of Family Psychology, 7, 344-355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jouriles, E. N., Murphy, C. M., & O'Leary, K. D. (1989). Interspousal aggression, marital discord, and child problems. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 453-455.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Katz, L. F., & Gottman, J. M. (1993). Patterns of marital conflict predict children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 29, 940-950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kleiner, L., & Marshall, W. L. (1987). The role of interpersonal problems in the development of agoraphobia with panic attacks. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 1, 313-323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kurdek, L. A. (1998). The nature and predictors of the trajectory of change in marital quality over the first 4 years of marriage for first-married husbands and wives. Journal of Family Psychology, 12, 494-510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McLeod, J. D. (1994). Anxiety disorders and marital quality. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103, 767-776.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Meyers, S. A. (1999). Mothering in context: Ecological determinants of parent behavior. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 332-357.Google Scholar
  40. Peterson, J. L., & Zill, N. (1986). Marital disruption, parent-child relationships, and behavior problems in children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 295-307.Google Scholar
  41. Porter, B., & O'Leary, D. K. (1980). Marital discord and childhood behavior problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 8, 287-295.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Radke-Yarrow, M., Nottelman, E., Belmont, B., & Welsh, J. D. (1993). Affective interactions of depressed and nondepressed mothers and their children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 21, 683-695.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385-401.Google Scholar
  44. Sanders, M. R., & Dadds, M. R. (1993). Behavioral family interventions. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  45. Sweet, J. A., Bumpass, L. L., & Call, V. R. A. (1988). The design and content of the National Survey of Families and Households (Working Paper NSFH-1). Madison: University of Wisconsin, Center for Demography and Ecology.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Fishman
    • 1
  • Steven A. Meyers
    • 2
  1. 1.Chicago School of Professional PsychologyChicago
  2. 2.School of PsychologyRoosevelt UniversityChicago

Personalised recommendations