Conflict Decreases Parental Effectiveness


Conflict Decreases Parental Effectiveness

Research in the 1990’s concluded that parents’ preoccupation with marital conflict impairs their child-rearing practices.  The strongest impact was noted in the increased use of harsh discipline and decreased acceptance of the child.  Also, they found that the strongest negative effects were from parental hostility, rather than simple parental disagreements. (2)

Marital conflict negatively affects the parent-child relationship as parents use harsh discipline and decrease their involvement. (3) Frustrated, angry parents may be emotionally unavailable to the child.  Because the parent is unaware of the child’s needs, or unable to respond, the child may feel rejected, unimportant, unloved.

Recent research noted two types of competitive parent conflict. Direct conflict refers to overt behaviors by parents such as screaming and attacking.  Indirect refers to passive parental behaviors such as attempting to triangulate the children into the conflict, or denigrating the other parent in front of children. (4)



References: (1) Schoppe-Sullivan (2007) Marital Conflict and Children’s Adjustment: Evaluation of the Parenting Process Model. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69: 1118-1134. (2) Krishnakumar, A. and Buehler, C. (2000) Interparental conflict and parenting behavior: A meta-analytic review. Family Relations, 49: 25-44. (3) Gerard, J.M. et al. (2006) Marital Conflict, Parent-Child Relations, and Youth Maladjustment: A Longitudinal Investigation of Spillover Effects. Journal of Family Issues, 27 (7): 951-975. (4) Francia, L. and Millear, P. (2015) Mastery or Misery: Conflict Between Separated Parents a Psychological Burden for Children. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 56: 551-568.

We know that such situations of interparental conflict are often overlooked or minimized, but can harm children.

We believe that most parents, even though stressed through the divorce process, would change their behavior when they realize the harm it causes.

As will be shown in a future BOI Belief, parent education programs can help some parents make changes in their parenting that benefit the children.

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Phone: (337) 534-0325

To eliminate harm to Acadiana's children due to parental conflict.