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This study examined the moderating role of family instability in relations involving destructive interparental conflict, children’s internal representations of insecurity in the family system, and their early school maladjustment. Two hundred forty-three preschool children (M age = 4.60 years; 56 % girls) and their families participated in this multi-method (i.e., observations, structured interview, surveys) multi-informant (i.e., observer, parent, teacher), longitudinal study. Findings indicated that the mediational role of children’s insecure family representations in the pathway between destructive interparental conflict and children’s adjustment problems varied significantly depending on the level of family instability. Interparental conflict was specifically associated with insecure family representations only under conditions of low family instability. In supporting the role of family instability as a vulnerable-stable risk factor, follow up analyses revealed that children’s concerns about security in the family were uniformly high under conditions of heightened instability regardless of their level of exposure to interparental conflict.
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- The Multivariate Roles of Family Instability and Interparental Conflict in Predicting Children’s Representations of Insecurity in the Family System and Early School Adjustment Problems
Jesse L. Coe
Patrick T. Davies
Melissa L. Sturge-Apple
- Springer US