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09-08-2018 | Original Paper

Relations Between Parents’ Anxiety Symptoms, Marital Quality, and Preschoolers’ Externalizing and Internalizing Behaviors

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies
Auteurs:
Keren Hanetz Gamliel, Daphna G. Dollberg, Sigal Levy

Abstract

Our objective was to expand understanding of the associations between fathers’ and mothers’ anxiety symptoms, their perceptions of marital quality, and their children’s maladjustment behaviors. Sixty Israeli families with a child aged 3–5 participated. Mothers and fathers completed self-report questionnaires assessing parents’ anxiety symptoms, marital dissatisfaction, and marital overt conflict, and child internalizing and externalizing behaviors. The actor–partner interdependence mediation model (APIMeM) design with distinguishable dyads within a path analysis framework was used. Findings showed that marital dissatisfaction of both mothers and fathers partially mediated the links between mothers’ anxiety and child behaviors. For externalizing behaviors, actor and partner effects were found, so that mothers’ anxiety symptoms predicted mothers’ own marital dissatisfaction (actor effect) and fathers’ marital dissatisfaction (partner effect), which, in turn were linked with children’s externalizing behaviors. As for internalizing behaviors, only actor effect was found, so that mothers’ anxiety symptoms were linked with maternal dissatisfaction, which, in turn, was linked with child internalizing behaviors. For fathers’ anxiety symptoms, the APIMeM indicated only direct effects on both internalizing and externalizing behaviors. These findings highlight the risk associated with parental anxiety and the contribution of the marital relations to children’s adjustment and are discussed in light of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model and Emotional Security Theory.

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