The Effects of Interparental Conflict on Children

Authored by: John Grych , Claire Oxtoby , Mark Lynn

Handbook of Family Theories

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  March  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415879453
eBook ISBN: 9780203075180
Adobe ISBN: 9781135118754


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Children exposed to hostile and aggressive conflict between their caregivers are at increased risk for a wide range of psychological and physical health problems (for reviews, see Buehler, et al., 1997; Cummings & Davies, 2002). Over the past two decades, tremendous progress has been made in understanding how interparental conflict gives rise to adjustment problems in children. These advances reflect the confluence of several theoretical perspectives that provide a multifaceted description of the processes that underlie the link between conflict and child maladjustment. The conceptual models salient in this area include both broad theoretical frameworks and domain-specific models tailored to the unique context of parental conflict. In this chapter, we highlight the dominant theoretical models that have guided research on the impact of interparental hostility and aggression on children, examine their empirical support, and identify directions for the continued evolution of research in this area. But first, we describe how we define the constructs that the chapter will focus on.

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