Patterns of Interparental Conflict, Parenting, and Children's Emotional Insecurity

Norton School Doctoral Candidate Olena Kopystynska, along with Norton School alumna Dr. Katie Paschall, and Norton School Faculty Dr. Melissa Barnett, Dr. Melissa Curran, examined the relations between interparental conflict (destructive and constructive), parenting behaviors (harshness and supportiveness) and children's emotional insecurity in early childhood when children were approximately 36 months of age. The sample consisted of low-income unmarried couples who were expectant/new parents who participated in the national Building Strong Families project. Interparental conflict was assessed through parents' reported perception of the other parent's conflict behavior. Parenting behaviors were measured through observational data, and children's emotional insecurity was based on parents' reports.

Using latent profile analysis, three goals were addressed: (a) concordance or discord of mothers' and fathers' conflict behaviors, (b) the relation between couples' conflict behaviors and parenting, and (c) the association between couples' conflict behaviors and child emotional insecurity. Our findings revealed 4 profiles of couples that share similar characteristics, which in turn were differentially linked to aspects of parenting and child development. Further, results indicated that the vast majority of low-income unmarried couples engage in constructive conflict management behaviors. These findings highlight the need to consider the family unit when designing interventions or providing counseling.

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Olena Kopystynska

Institutes and Centers

The University of Arizona