Marital Interactions and Parent-Child Conflict: The Moderating Role of Coparenting




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Greater marital conflict relates to more parent-child conflict. However, parent-child conflicts can be navigated in different ways (i.e., collaborative and oppositional conflict qualities). Additionally, the way parents communicate with each other and in their relationship with their child may be influenced by the support they perceive from their partner in their parenting role. The current study was broken into two parts. First, I investigated coparenting support as an enhancer or buffer of the link between marital behaviors and mother-child conflict, depending on the valence of the marital behaviors (i.e., positive or negative) and mother-child conflict quality (i.e., collaborative or oppositional). Second, I investigated coparenting as a buffer of the link between mothers’ and fathers’ negative marital behaviors and oppositional parent-child conflict. Multilevel modeling was used in a sample of 142 families with a 5- to 8-year old child. Results revealed that on days parents engaged in more negative behaviors toward their spouse than usual, they were more likely to have a conflict with their child. In this study, coparenting did not serve as a buffer between parents’ marital behaviors and parent-child conflict interactions. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of understanding family system processes that unfold over time in predicting parent-child conflict interactions.



Marital conflict, Communication in families, Communication in marriage, Child and parent, Broken homes