Marital Conflict, Parenting Styles, and Children's Representations of Family Relationships

H Shamir, TD Schudlich, EM Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objective. Consistent with the view that marital relationships are a dimension of parenting, the objective was to determine whether marital conflict predicted children's representations of family relationships, including parent - child and marital relationships. Design. To assess children's representations of family, 47 5- to 8-year-old children provided narrative descriptions in response to story stems about topics concerning multiple family systems. Fathers and mothers independently completed questionnaires assessing dimensions of their marital conflict behavior and parenting. Results. The results indicated that both mothers' and fathers' marital conflict strategies were related to children's representations of multiple family systems. Moreover, assessments of parents' self-reported parenting styles added to the understanding of children's representations of family relationships. For both parents, negative marital conflict strategies were linked with negative representations of family relationships, whereas for fathers, positive parenting styles (e.g., acceptance, behavioral control) were associated with positive representations of family relationships. Conclusions. The results provide further support for the role of the marital relationship as a dimension of parenting and specifically demonstrate that marital conflict has implications for children's representations of family relationships.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberPII 785828779
Pages (from-to)123-151
Number of pages29
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2001, Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


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