Interparental Conflict in Kindergarten and Adolescent Adjustment: Prospective Investigation of Emotional Security as an Explanatory Mechanism


  • This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (R01 MH57318) awarded to Patrick T. Davies and E. Mark Cummings. We are grateful to the children, parents, and teachers who participated in this project. We express our appreciation to project staff and students at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Rochester. We are grateful to Scott Maxwell for his generous statistical consultation and Kalsea Koss for her comments on drafts of the manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to E. Mark Cummings, Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46530. Electronic mail may be sent to


Advancing the long-term prospective study of explanations for the effects of marital conflict on children’s functioning, relations were examined between interparental conflict in kindergarten, children’s emotional insecurity in the early school years, and subsequent adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. Based on a community sample of 235 mothers, fathers, and children (Ms = 6.00, 8.02, 12.62 years), and multimethod and multireporter assessments, structural equation model tests provided support for emotional insecurity in early childhood as an intervening process related to adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems, even with stringent autoregressive controls over prior levels of functioning for both mediating and outcome variables. Discussion considers implications for understanding pathways between interparental conflict, emotional insecurity, and adjustment in childhood and adolescence.