The Role of Attachment in Perceptions of Interparental Conflict and Behavior Problems in Middle Childhood
Description: The current study investigated the association of interparental conflict, parent-child attachment, and children's behavior problems in middle childhood. Although the effects of interparental conflict have been studied extensively, there has been little research done in the developmental period of middle childhood. This study examined the potential mediating role of the attachment relationship between parents and children in a community sample consisting of 86 two-parent families with at least one child between the ages of 8-11. Path modeling procedures indicated that attachment security serves as a mediator between interparental conflict and child behavior problems based on child reports. In particular, child-reported attachment security to the mother significantly mediated the association between children's perceptions of threat from interparental conflict and child-reported internalizing and inattentive/hyperactive symptoms. Child-reported attachment security to the father was not a significant mediator and mediation was not supported in parent-report models. The current findings have implications for families experiencing conflict and speak to the importance of attachment in the parent-child relationship when explaining the association between instances of interparental conflict and child behavioral outcomes. In particular, parents who engage in conflict can prevent the damaging effects of that conflict by making the conflict less overt, explaining to children the reasons for the conflict, and providing children with some assurance that a secure parent-child and interparental relationship is still present, despite the conflict.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Cusimano, Angela Marie