Send to

Choose Destination
J Clin Child Psychol. 1997 Jun;26(2):157-71.

Buffering children from marital conflict and dissolution.

Author information

Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Examined several protective mechanisms that may reduce deleterious correlates of marital conflict and marital dissolution in young children. One set of potential buffers focused on parent-child interaction: parental warmth, parental scaffolding/praise, and inhibition of parental rejection. As a second set of potential buffers, each parent was interviewed about their "meta-emotion philosophy"--that is, their feelings about their own emotions, and their attitudes and responses to their children's anger and sadness. The third set of potential buffers concerned intraindividual characteristics of the child, including the child's intelligence and regulatory physiology (basal vagal tone and vagal suppression). Fifty-six families with a preschool child were studied at two time points: when the children were 5 years old (Time 1) and again when the children were 8 years old (Time 2). At Time 1, naturalistic observations of marital and parent-child interaction were conducted and assessment of child regulatory physiology was obtained through measures of basal vagal tone and suppression of vagal tone. Parents were also interviewed individually about their feelings about their own and their children's emotions, and children's intelligence was assessed. At Time 2, assessment of child outcomes were obtained, including observations of peer interaction, mother ratings of behavior problems and mother and teacher ratings of peer aggression, mother ratings of child physical illness, and measures of achievement. Results indicated that all Time 1 buffering factors protected children in face of marital conflict and dissolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center