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Keywords:

  • child development;
  • interparental conflict;
  • longitudinal;
  • parent–child relations

Abstract

This study addresses the links between destructive and constructive marital conflict and mothers' and fathers' parenting to understand associations with children's social and school adjustment. Multi-method, longitudinal assessments of 235 mothers, fathers, and children (129 girls) were collected across kindergarten, first, and second grades (ages 5–7 at time 1; ages 7–9 at time 3). Whereas constructive marital conflict was related to both mothers' and fathers' warm parenting, destructive marital conflict was only linked to fathers' use of inconsistent discipline. In turn, both mothers' and fathers' use of psychological control was related to children's school adjustment, and mothers' warmth was related to children's social adjustment. Reciprocal links between constructs were also explored, supporting associations between destructive marital conflict and mothers' and fathers' inconsistent discipline. The merit of examining marital conflict and parenting as multidimensional constructs is discussed in relation to understanding the processes and pathways within families that affect children's functioning.