Conflict in Families and the Psychological Adjustment of Preadolescent Children

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We examined the cross-sectional association between conflict in families and child psychological adjustment in 72 4th–5th graders. Multiple informants (parents, children, and teachers) assessed conflict and anger in the social climate of the home, marital discord, negative emotional tone in the parent–child relationship, and child adjustment. As predicted, child adjustment was more strongly related to family conflict than to marital discord. There was a stronger association between family conflict and maladjustment in girls. Moreover, the association between a general climate of conflict at home and child maladjustment was independent of anger and discord in the marital or parent–child relationships. During the study of the effects of interpersonal conflict at home, it appears to be important to identify the locus of anger and aggression. Findings suggest that researchers should distinguish between a general climate of conflict in the family and interparental discord.

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