Marital Quality and Gender Differences in Parent–Child Interaction

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This microanalytic study of family interaction establishes links among marital quality, gender, and parent–child relationships. Dyadic conversational exchanges between 38 mothers and fathers and their 3.5 year-old first-born son or daughter were analyzed. Marital quality was related to gender differences in both parent and child behavior, with less maritally adjusted fathers of daughters showing the most negativity toward their children. Sequential analyses showed that gender differences in parents' and children's responses to one another were also mediated by marital quality. Mothers in less satisfied marriages were the least accepting of daughters' assertiveness and were more likely to reciprocate the negative affect of sons. Daughters of parents lower in marital satisfaction were less compliant with their fathers. Implications of these findings for understanding gender differences in the effects of marital conflict on parenting and child development are discussed.

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