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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2001 Oct;81(4):627-38.

The legacy of parents' marital discord: consequences for children's marital quality.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802-6207, USA.


Drawing on a national longitudinal study of 297 parents and their married offspring, the authors found that parents' marital discord was negatively related to offspring's marital harmony and positively related to offspring's marital discord. The transmission of marital quality was not mediated by parental divorce, life-course variables, socioeconomic attainment, retrospective measures of parent-child relationships, or psychological distress. Offspring's recollections of parental discord, however, mediated about half of the association between parents' reports of marital discord and offspring's reports of discord in their own marriages. Parental behaviors most likely to predict problematic marriages among offspring included jealousy, being domineering, getting angry easily, being critical, being moody, and not talking to the spouse.

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