Parents' Fights May Strain Bonds With Their Kids

THURSDAY Aug. 28, 2014, 2014 -- Arguments between parents may damage their relationships with their children, a new study indicates.

Parents in more than 200 families were asked to make daily diary entries for 15 days. At the end of each day, mothers and fathers rated the quality of their marriage and their relationship with their children.

On days when parents reported conflict and tension in their marriage, their dealings with their children were also strained, according to the study recently published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

However, there were notable differences between mothers and fathers. Marital conflict affected mothers' relationships with their children for just one day.

"In fact, in that situation, moms appeared to compensate for their marital tension. Poor marital quality actually predicted an improvement in the relationship between the mom and the child. So, the first day's adverse spillover is short-lived for moms," study author Chrystyna Kouros, an assistant professor in the psychology department at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, said in a university news release.

It was a different story with fathers.

"In families where the mom was showing signs of depression, dads on the other hand let the marital tension spill over, with the result being poorer interactions with their child, even on the next day," Kouros said.

The study shows that the quality of their marriage affects each parent's ties with their children.

"We see from the findings that the marriage is a hub relationship for the family," Kouros said. "The quality of that relationship spills over into each parent's interactions with the child. So if mom and dad are fighting, it will show up initially -- and in some cases on the second day -- in a poorer quality relationship with their kids."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about parenting.

Posted: August 2014


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