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J Fam Psychol. 2008 Feb;22(1):89-101. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.22.1.89.

Children's representations of multiple family relationships: organizational structure and development in early childhood.

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Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.


The authors examine mutual family influence processes at the level of children's representations of multiple family relationships, as well as the structure of those representations. From a community sample with 3 waves, each spaced 1 year apart, kindergarten-age children (105 boys and 127 girls) completed a story-stem completion task, tapping representations of multiple family relationships. Structural equation modeling with autoregressive controls indicated that representational processes involving different family relationships were interrelated over time, including links between children's representations of marital conflict and reactions to conflict, between representations of security about marital conflict and parent-child relationships, and between representations of security in father-child and mother-child relationships. Mixed support was found for notions of increasing stability in representations during this developmental period. Results are discussed in terms of notions of transactional family dynamics, including family-wide perspectives on mutual influence processes attributable to multiple family relationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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