Volume 32, Issue 5 p. 793-810

Marital Disharmony and Children's Behaviour Problems: Aspects of a Poor Marriage that Affect Children Adversely

J. M. Jenkins

J. M. Jenkins

Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, U.K.

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M. A. Smith

Corresponding Author

M. A. Smith

Department of Child Psychiatry, Institute of Child Health, University of London, U.K.

Requests for reprints to: Marjorie A. Smith, Department of Child Psychiatry, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, U.K.Search for more papers by this author
First published: July 1991
Citations: 98

Abstract

Abstract– The aim of this study was to investigate the elements of the parental marital relationship which put children at risk for behavioural and emotional problems. Data from 119 families from the general population with a child aged between 9 and 12 years were analysed for the present study. The relationship between children's emotional and behavioural problems and overt parental conflict, covert tension between parents and discrepancy on child-rearing practices was assessed. Overt parental conflict was found to relate most strongly to children's emotional and behavioural problems using mothers', fathers’and children's accounts of the children's symptoms and after controlling for other aspects of marital disharmony. Aspects of the parent-child relationship were hypothesized as mediating variables in the relationship between parental conflict and children's emotional and behavioural problems, but the data did not support this hypothesis.