Parental Dysphoria and Children's Internalizing Symptoms: Marital Conflict Styles as Mediators of Risk

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Abstract

Parents' marital conflict styles were investigated as mediators in the associations between parental dysphoria and children's internalizing symptoms. A community sample of 267 children, ages 8 to 16, participated with their parents. Behavioral observations were made of parents' interactions during marital conflict resolution tasks. Questionnaires assessed parents' dysphoria and children's internalizing problems. Structural equation modeling indicated that marital discord, in particular, depressive conflict styles, mediated the relationship between parental dysphoria and children's internalizing problems. Furthermore, whereas for dysphoric mothers, depressive conflict styles partially mediated the links with children's internalizing, for fathers, depressive conflict styles fully mediated the links. Destructive and constructive marital conflict were associated with parental dysphoria (positively and negatively, respectively) but did not mediate the relations with children's internalizing.

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