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Exploring Children's Emotional Security as a Mediator of the Link between Marital Relations and Child Adjustment

Patrick T. Davies and E. Mark Cummings
Child Development
Vol. 69, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 124-139
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1132075
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1132075
Page Count: 16
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Exploring Children's Emotional Security as a Mediator of the Link between Marital Relations and Child Adjustment
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Abstract

Guided by the emotional security hypothesis, this study examined whether links between marital relations and children's adjustment were mediated by children's emotional security, as evidenced by their emotional reactivity (e. g., vigilance, distress), regulation of exposure to parent affect (avoidance, involvement), and internal representations in the context of interparental relations. Multiple methods and contexts were used to assess 6- to 9-year-olds' emotional security in response to standardized, simulated conflicts involving parents. Latent variable path analysis supported a theoretical pathway whereby marital dysfunction was linked with adjustment problems as mediated by response processes indicative of emotional insecurity in relation to parental conflicts. Emotional reactivity and internal representations were most closely linked with marital relations and child adjustment, especially with regard to internalizing symptoms. The importance of understanding children's emotional security in the context of the marital subsystem is discussed.

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