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Marital Conflict and Early Adolescents' Self-Evaluation: The Role of Parenting Quality and Early Adolescents' Appraisals

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 41 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2012 Pages: 749-763
Andrea Siffert; Beate Schwarz; Melanie Stutz
Date Published
June 2012
15 pages
This study examined the relationship between marital conflict and children's adjustment.
Cognitive appraisals and family dynamics have been identified as mediators of the relationship between marital conflict and children's adjustment. Surprisingly little research has investigated both meditational processes in the same study. Guided by the cognitive-contextual framework and the spillover hypothesis, the present study integrated factors from both theories early adolescents' appraisals of threat and self-blame, as well as perceived parenting quality as mediators of the link between early adolescents' perception of marital conflict and their self-evaluations (self-esteem and scholastic competence). Analyses were based on the first two waves of an ongoing longitudinal study. Participants were 176 two-parent families, and their early adolescents (50.5 percent girls) whose mean age was 10.61 years at Time 1 (SD = 0.40) and 11.63 years at Time 2 (SD = 0.39). Structural equation modeling analyses indicated that parenting quality and early adolescents' perceived threat provided indirect pathways between marital conflict and early adolescents' self-esteem 1 year later when controlling for their initial level of self-esteem. With respect to scholastic competence, only fathers' parenting was an indirect link. Self-blame did not play a role. Implications for understanding the mechanisms by which exposure to marital conflict predicts early adolescents' maladjustment are discussed. Abstract published by arrangement with Springer.