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Linking Extreme Marital Discord, Child Rearing, and Child Behavior Problems: Evidence from Battered Women

George W. Holden and Kathy L. Ritchie
Child Development
Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr., 1991), pp. 311-327
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131005
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131005
Page Count: 17
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Linking Extreme Marital Discord, Child Rearing, and Child Behavior Problems: Evidence from Battered Women
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Abstract

Relations between marital discord, parental behavior, and child behavior were investigated in a sample of 37 battered women and 37 comparison mothers and their children, aged 2-8 years. It was hypothesized that violent fathers would be more irritable but less involved, battered women more stressed and inconsistent in discipline, and both parents would reportedly use fewer positive and more negative child-rearing responses than comparison families. Based on maternal self-reports and mother-child observations, the only robust self-report difference between the groups of mothers were the level of stress and reports of inconsistency in parenting; in contrast, all of the expected differences were found between the mothers' reports of the 2 groups of fathers. Group effects on child behavior problems were also found. Children from violent families were reported to have more internalizing behavior problems, more difficult temperaments, and to be more aggressive than the comparison children. In the violent families, maternal stress and paternal irritability were the 2 significant predictors of child behavior problems, whereas in the comparison families only maternal stress was a reliable predictor.

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