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Frequent exposure to poor marital relationship is closely associated with behavioral and emotional problems in children, including oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms. However, the longitudinal links between parental marital quality and child ODD symptoms, and whether these links vary by child or parent gender remain unclear. In the present study, we aimed to examine the bidirectional associations between parental marital quality and child ODD symptoms and whether the associations differed across parent and child gender.
The sample included 253 children with ODD and their parents and teachers from Mainland China. Parental marital quality and child ODD symptoms were measured at two waves (T1, T2), roughly 1 year apart.
Results from cross-lagged analyses showed bidirectional associations between parental marital quality and child ODD symptoms in the whole sample. Specifically, more child ODD symptoms predicted poorer parental marital quality, and lower levels of parental marital quality predicted subsequent increase in child ODD symptoms. Multigroup path analysis indicated that these associations differed across child gender. That is, girls but not boys’ ODD symptoms predicted poorer parental marital quality; marital quality predicted subsequent ODD symptoms for boys but not for girls. There was no difference in the association between marital quality and child ODD symptoms for mothers and fathers.
Results highlight the importance of considering child gender in understanding the bidirectional relations between parental marital quality and child ODD symptoms.
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- The Mutual Influence Between Marital Quality and Child Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms in Chinese Families: Do Child and Parent’s Gender Matter?
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