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Does the Way Parents Fight Matter? Parents' Conflict Resolution Styles and Children's Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

Abstract
Although the negative associations between marital conflict and children’s adjustment are well documented, less is known about how marital conflict styles (e.g., engagement, withdrawal, problem solving and compliance) are related to children’s developmental outcomes. The present study seeks to determine what types of parents’ conflict styles, during the child’s first year of life, are related to children’s behavioral outcomes in the first grade. Analyses examine the hypothesis that more conflictual conflict resolution styles of parents during a child’s infancy will predict poorer child outcomes over time. In addition, given the growing literature documenting the first year of life as a particularly sensitive period in children’s development, the proposed study will explore the effect of parents’ conflict resolution styles in the child’s first year of life on child outcomes at age six, controlling for concurrent levels of conflict. Lastly this study will explore the interaction of parents’ conflict resolution style in predicting children’s outcomes. Conflict resolution style and children outcomes were examined in a sample of 153 working-class, first-time parents and their children. Participants were recruited through prenatal classes at hospitals and birth clinics, as well as through Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices in Western Massachusetts.
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