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02-06-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 8/2020

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 8/2020

Bidirectional Associations between Youth Adjustment and Mothers’ and Fathers’ Coparenting Conflict

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 8/2020
Elizabeth M. Riina, Jin-kyung Lee, Mark E. Feinberg
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Research demonstrates significant associations between coparenting conflict and child adjustment problems. However, the implications of youth adjustment for coparenting, especially during youth’s adolescence, remain poorly understood. Addressing several gaps in the literature, this study examines the longitudinal trajectory of mothers’ and fathers’ reported coparenting conflict from youth ages 10–17 and tests bidirectional associations between youth social anxiety, hostility, risk-taking behaviors, and mothers’ and fathers’ coparenting conflict. Participants include 757 mothers, fathers, and youth in two-parent families (M youth age = 11.28, SD = 0.49; 53% female) who participated in 5 waves of data collection when youth were in the 6th to 9th grades. Multilevel growth curve models revealed significant non-linear change in mothers’ and fathers’ coparenting conflict, such that coparenting conflict declined through youth’s transition to adolescence, leveled off in early adolescence, and declined in the mid-late adolescent years. Cross-lagged models showed significant positive associations between youth social anxiety and hostility and coparenting conflict at the following time point, but coparenting conflict did not predict later youth adjustment problems in these domains. There were significant bidirectional associations between mother-reported coparenting conflict and youth risk-taking behaviors; the associations between coparenting conflict and risk-taking were not significant for fathers. The findings demonstrate that investigating longitudinal associations between youth adjustment and coparenting conflict may provide new insights into the role of child effects for mothers’ and fathers’ coparenting experiences.

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