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Keywords:

  • Marital disharmony;
  • prosocial behavior;
  • parent-child relationships;
  • emotion regulation;
  • social behavior

Background:  This study addresses the gaps in understanding the relationship between constructive and destructive marital conflict and children’s prosocial behavior from a process-oriented perspective.

Method:  Data were drawn from a three-wave study of 235 families with children ages 5–7 at wave 1. Relations between constructive and destructive marital conflict, children’s emotional security, warm parenting and children’s prosocial behavior were examined through the use of structural equation modeling.

Results:  Even after controlling for prior levels of children’s prosocial behavior at wave 1, children’s emotional security acted as an intervening variable between both constructive and destructive marital conflict and children’s prosocial behavior over time.

Conclusions:  These findings advance the relationship between marital conflict and children’s adjustment by focusing on children’s prosocial behavior and highlight the need to further investigate the impact of positive dimensions of marital conflict on dimensions of children’s positive social functioning.