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Marital Conflict, Ineffective Parenting, and Children's and Adolescents' Maladjustment



Data from the 1988 National Survey on Families and Households were analyzed to examine the associations among marital conflict, ineffective parenting, and children's and adolescents' maladjustment. Parents' use of harsh discipline and low parental involvement helped explain the connection between marital conflict and children's maladjustment in children aged 2 through 11. Parent-child conflict was measured only in families with a target teenager and also was a significant mediator. Although ineffective parenting explained part of the association between marital conflict and children's maladjustment, independent effects of marital conflict remained in families with target children aged 2 through 11 (but not for families with a teenager). With a few exceptions, this pattern of findings was consistent for mothers' and fathers' reports, for daughters and sons, for families with various ethnic backgrounds, and for families living in and out of poverty.