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Child Dev. 1991 Dec;62(6):1434-48.

Marriage and the parenting partnership: perceptions and interactions of parents with mentally retarded and typically developing children.

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Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


The quality of the parents' marital bond and their ability to work together in the parenting role were examined for the parents of school-aged children (ages 6-18) with mild and moderate mental retardation (n = 38) and a comparable group of parents of typically developing children (n = 34). Significantly more negative functioning for the parents of mentally retarded children was observed during marital interactions, and parent-child interactions but was not reflected in their self-reports of marriage and parenting, suggesting that expectations about marital and parenting strains may modulate negative sentiments for these parents. Across both groups, marital quality and the parenting partnership, together with child behavior problems, accounted for 23% to 53% of the variance in parenting confidence and in aversive parent-child exchanges. Negative marital interaction was a particularly important predictor of aversive parent-child exchanges.

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