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Marital Conflict and Children’s Emotional Security in the Context of Parental Depression


Department of Psychology, 114 Haggar Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556 (


Evidence has emerged for emotional security as an explanatory variable linking marital conflict to children’s adjustment. Further evidence suggests parental psychopathology is a key factor in child development. To advance understanding of the pathways by which these family risk factors impact children’s development, the mediational role of emotional security for children with parents who have potentially clinical levels of depression compared to children whose parents have lower levels of symptomatology was examined (i.e., moderated mediation). Participants included 297 families assessed annually for 3 years. Paternal depression moderated pathways, such that marital conflict was associated with greater child emotional insecurity 2 years later in the context of paternal depression. Testing alternative pathways, emotional insecurity mediated relations between maternal depression and externalizing problems.

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