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J Fam Psychol. 2006 Jun;20(2):348-51.

Relations among family discord, caregiver communication, and children's family representations.

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Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


This study examined associations among family discord, caregiver communication quality about emotionally stressful family events, and child internal representations of family security in 50 preschool children and their primary caregivers. Consistent with risk and protective models, findings indicate that children's representations were predicted by the interaction between family discord and caregiver communication quality. Children exhibiting the highest level of secure representations of the family experienced a consistency between low levels of family discord and communications emphasizing family security. Conversely, incongruency between family experiences and communication, reflected in high levels of family discord and communications underscoring family security, was associated with the lowest level of child secure representations. Results suggest that child representations hinge on the fit between caregiver communication quality and family experience.

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