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25-07-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2016

Families with Distinct Levels of Marital Conflict and Child Adjustment: Which Role for Maternal and Paternal Stress?

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2016
Auteurs:
Elena Camisasca, Sarah Miragoli, Paola Di Blasio

Abstract

This study addresses the links between distinct levels of marital conflict and mothers’ and fathers’ parenting stress and their associations with children’s adjustment. Using a sample of 358 Italian father–mother dyads with school–aged children, we computed a cluster analysis to identify distinct groups of families with different levels of interparental conflict. In each of the three groups identified (low, moderate, and high marital conflict), we conducted correlational and mediational analyses to explore the relationship between interparental conflict and children’s adjustment, the relationship between interparental conflict and maternal and paternal stress, and the potential mediating role of these components of maternal and paternal stress in the association between interparental conflict and children’s adjustment. We administered the R-CTS, PSI-SF, and CBCL to parents in order to assess marital conflict, maternal and paternal stress, and children’s behavioral problems; children completed the CPIC in order to evaluate their perceptions of interparental conflict. Results show that, in the high marital conflict group, levels of interparental conflict negatively affect children’s adjustment; moreover, the parent–child dysfunctional interaction component of maternal stress partially mediates the relationship between interparental discord and children’s internalizing behaviors, while the difficult child component of paternal stress fully mediates the effects of marital conflict on externalizing behaviors. In the moderate marital conflict group, levels of interparental conflict are correlated with the difficult child component of both maternal and paternal stress, while in the low marital conflict group, interparental conflict does not correlate with both maternal and paternal stress and children’s adjustment.

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