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Journal of Family Psychology - Vol 31, Iss 4

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Journal of Family Psychology The Journal of Family Psychology is devoted to the study of the family system from multiple perspectives and to the application of psychological methods of inquiry to that end.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Early maternal depressive symptom trajectories: Associations with 7-year maternal depressive symptoms and child behavior.
    This study examines potential mechanisms linking maternal depressive symptoms over 2 years postpartum with child behavior problems at school-age in a sample of adolescent mothers and their first-born child. Potential mechanisms include: mother-reported caregiving engagement at 6 months; observed parental nurturance and control, and child competence and affect at 24 months; and mother-reported resilience at 7 years based on achievement of adult developmental tasks. One hundred eighteen low-income African American adolescent mothers were recruited at delivery and followed through child age 7 years. Maternal depressive symptom trajectories over 24 months were estimated (low, medium, and high) based on mother-reported depressive symptoms. Direct and indirect associations between depressive symptom trajectories with 7-year maternal depressive symptoms and child behavior problems were examined. The high maternal depressive symptom trajectory was associated with 7-year maternal depressive symptoms (b = 5.52, SE = 1.65, p <.01) and child internalizing problems (b = 7.60, SE = 3.12, p = .02) and externalizing problems (b = 6.23, SE = 3.22, p = .05). Caregiving engagement among high depressive symptom trajectory mothers was significantly associated with observed child affect (b = −0.21, SE = 0.11, p = 0.05). Parental nurturance in toddlerhood mediated the association between high maternal depressive symptom trajectory and child internalizing problems at 7 years (indirect effect b = 2.33, 95% CI: 0.32–5.88). Findings suggest that family based interventions to promote parenting and adolescent resiliency strengthening may be beneficial in this population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mother–son discrepant reporting on parenting practices: The contribution of temperament and depression.
    Despite low to moderate convergent correlations, assessment of youth typically relies on multiple informants for information across a range of psychosocial domains including parenting practices. Although parent–youth informant discrepancies have been found to predict adverse youth outcomes, few studies have examined contributing factors to the explanation of informant disagreements on parenting practices. The current study represents the first investigation to concurrently examine the role of mother and son’s self-reported affective dimensions of temperament and depression as pathways to informant discrepancies on parenting practices. Within a community sample of 174 mother–son dyads, results suggest that whereas mother’s self-reported temperament evidenced no direct effects on discrepancies, the association between the product term of mother’s negative and positive temperament and discrepancies on positive parenting was fully mediated by mother’s depression (a mediated moderation). In contrast, son’s self-reported temperament evidenced both direct and indirect effects, partially mediated by depression, on rating discrepancies for positive parenting. All told, both son’s self-reported affective dimensions of temperament and depression contributed to the explanation of discrepant reporting on parenting practices; only mother’s self-reported depression, but not temperament, uniquely contributed. Results highlight the importance of considering both parent and youth’s report in the investigation of informant discrepancies on parenting practices. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The impact of bereaved parents’ perceived grief similarity on relationship satisfaction.
    The present research focused on bereaved parents’ perceived grief similarity, and aimed to investigate the concurrent and longitudinal effects of the perceptions that the partner has less, equal, or more grief intensity than oneself on relationship satisfaction. Participants of our longitudinal study were 229 heterosexual bereaved Dutch couples who completed questionnaires 6, 13, and 20 months after the loss of their child. Average age of participants was 40.7 (SD = 9.5). Across 3 study waves, participants’ perceived grief similarity and relationship satisfaction were assessed. To control for their effects, own grief level, child’s gender, expectedness of loss, parent’s age, parent’s gender, and time were also included in the analyses. Consistent with the hypotheses, cross-sectional results revealed that bereaved parents who perceived dissimilar levels of grief (less or more grief) had lower relationship satisfaction than bereaved parents who perceived similar levels of grief. This effect remained significant controlling for the effects of possible confounding variables and actual similarity in grief between partners. We also found that perceived grief similarity at the first study wave was related to the highest level of relationship satisfaction at the second study wave. Moreover, results showed that perceived grief similarity was associated with a higher level in partner’s relationship satisfaction. Results are discussed considering the comparison and similarity in grief across bereaved partners after child loss. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Longitudinal associations between marital stress and externalizing behavior: Does parental sense of competence mediate processes?
    Ecological theories emphasize associations between children and elements within their family system, such as the marital relationship. Within a developmental perspective, we longitudinally examined (a) dynamic associations between marital stress and children’s externalizing behavior, (b) mediation of these associations by parental sense of competence, and (c) the extent to which associations are similar for mothers and fathers. The sample consisted of 369 two-parent families (46.1% boys; Mage at Time 1 = 7.70 years; 368 mothers, 355 fathers). Marital stress related to having a child, children’s externalizing behavior, and perceived parental competence were assessed three times across 8 years. Multigroup analyses were used to examine models for both parents simultaneously and test for similarity in associations across spouses. A bivariate latent growth model indicated positive associated change between marital stress and externalizing behavior, supporting the idea of codevelopment. The cross-lagged panel model revealed a reciprocal relation between marital stress and perceived parental competence across a time interval of 6 years. Additionally, two elicitation effects appeared during adolescence, showing that parents who reported higher externalizing problems in early adolescence reported more marital stress and a lower sense of competence two years later. Similar associations were found for mothers and fathers. Overall, this study indicates that marital stress and externalizing behavior codevelop over time and supports literature on developmental differences regarding interrelations between subsystems and individuals within the family system. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Relations between mothers’ daily work, home, and relationship stress with characteristics of mother–child conflict interactions.
    This study examined whether daily variations in levels of mothers’ work, home, and relationship stress were related to collaborative and oppositional qualities of mother–child conflict interactions across 1 week. Mothers reported on 1 specific conflict interaction with their 5- to 8-year-old child and their work, home, and relationship stress through online surveys each day for 7 consecutive days. Diary data from 142 mothers were analyzed in 6 multilevel models, each including within- and between-family levels of a stressor predicting collaborative or oppositional conflict qualities. Results suggested that families in the sample differed from each other, and also varied during the week, in collaborative and oppositional conflict qualities as well as stress in all 3 domains. Mothers reported a greater degree of oppositional conflict qualities on days characterized by higher perceptions of home chaos. Additionally, mothers who reported higher average levels of negativity in romantic relationships endorsed oppositional conflict qualities to a greater extent than mothers with lower relationship negativity. Two multilevel models including all 3 stressors in relation to collaborative and oppositional conflict revealed that for mothers managing multiple roles, average romantic relationship stress was the most important unique contributor to mother–child conflict qualities and daily relationship stress was particularly influential among mothers with sons compared to those with daughters. Results support the spillover hypothesis of stress within the family system and are discussed in terms of mothers’ coping mechanisms and emotional engagement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Analyzing dyadic data with multilevel modeling versus structural equation modeling: A tale of two methods.
    Multilevel modeling (MLM) and structural equation modeling (SEM) are the dominant methods for the analysis of dyadic data. Both methods are extensively reviewed for the widely used actor–partner interdependence model and the dyadic growth curve model, as well as other less frequently adopted models, including the common fate model and the mutual influence model. For each method, we discuss the analysis of distinguishable and indistinguishable members, the treatment of missing data, the standardization of effects, and tests of mediation. Even though there has been some blending of the 2 methods, each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, thus both should be in the toolbox of dyadic researchers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Cognitions about infant sleep: Interparental differences, trajectories across the first year, and coparenting quality.
    This study examined mothers’ and fathers’ beliefs about responding to infant night wakings across the first year of life, changes in those beliefs, and how individual maternal and paternal beliefs and interparental discrepancy in beliefs about responding to infant night wakings related to parents’ perceptions of coparenting quality. Participants were 167 mothers and 155 fathers who reported on their own beliefs about responding to infant night wakings and perceptions of coparenting quality when infants were 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months old. As predicted, mothers endorsed stronger beliefs about responding more immediately to infant night wakings than fathers, but for both parents these beliefs declined over the first year. Troubled beliefs about responding to infant night wakings predicted worse coparenting quality. In addition, the discrepancy between mothers’ and fathers’ beliefs predicted coparenting quality such that a larger discrepancy in parents’ beliefs about responding to infant night wakings significantly predicted poorer perceptions of coparenting, particularly in the early months, but only when mothers endorsed stronger beliefs than fathers. Results emphasize the importance of communication and concordance in nighttime parenting practices for aspects of parents’ coparenting relationship. Future research should consider the importance of examining domain-specific parenting practices and cognitions as well as interparental discrepancies when assessing coparenting quality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Interparental conflict and infants’ behavior problems: The mediating role of maternal sensitivity.
    Although the negative effect of interparental conflict on child behavior problems has been well established, few studies have examined this association during infancy. This study examined the associations between mother-reported interparental conflict and young children’s behavior problems over the first 2 years of their lives in a sample of 212 mothers and infants. Two aspects of maternal sensitivity, sensitivity during distressing and nondistressing contexts, were examined as possible mediators between interparental conflict and infants’ behavior problems. Results indicated that interparental conflict was associated directly with infants’ externalizing problems over time but was associated indirectly with infants’ internalizing problems over time via compromised maternal sensitivity within distressing contexts but not through maternal sensitivity within nondistressing contexts. No significant child gender differences were found. Such findings add to a limited body of research suggesting that the early interparental relationship context is relevant for infant adjustment. The salient mediating role of maternal sensitivity within distressing contexts provides important theoretical and practical insights for future studies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Does marital conflict predict infants’ physiological regulation? A short-term prospective study.
    Prior research has linked marital conflict to children’s internalizing/externalizing disorders, insecure attachment, and poor emotional regulation (e.g., Cummings & Davies, 2010; Cummings, Iannotti, & Zahn-Waxler, 1985). Although investigators have examined the impact of marital discord on older children (e.g., Crockenberg & Langrock, 2001), few have explored direct links in infancy (e.g., Cowan & Cowan, 1999). This study extends earlier work by examining linkages between marital functioning (conflict and harmony) and infants’ cardiac vagal tone and developmental status across 2 time points using a cross-lag approach. Differential findings were found for boys and girls, with concurrent linkages between marital love and vagal tone at 6 months for boys and girls but only for boys at 12 months. In addition, marital conflict at 6 months predicted lower cardiac vagal tone in girls at 12 months but not boys. Finally, infants’ developmental status at 6 months was found to predict marital conflict at 12 months. Higher scores on the Psychomotor Development Index (PDI) predicted greater marital conflict whereas higher scores on the Mental Development Index (MDI) predicted lower conflict. These findings are discussed in the context of the emotional security hypothesis and the spillover framework as well as differential susceptibilities to early developmental contexts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Father–adolescent engagement in shared activities: Effects on cortisol stress response in young adulthood.
    Parent–child relationships can critically affect youth physiological development. Most studies have focused on the influence of maternal behaviors, with little attention to paternal influences. The current study investigated father engagement with their adolescents in household (shopping, cooking) and discretionary leisure activities as a predictor of youth cortisol response to a challenging interpersonal task in young adulthood. The sample (N = 213) was roughly divided between Mexican American (MA; n = 101) and European American (EA; n = 112) families, and included resident biological-father (n = 131) and resident stepfather families (n = 82). Salivary cortisol was collected before, immediately after, and at 20 and 40 min after an interpersonal challenge task; area under the curve (AUCg) was calculated to capture total cortisol output. Results suggested that more frequent father engagement in shared activities with adolescents (ages 11–16), but not mother engagement, predicted lower AUCg cortisol response in young adulthood (ages 19–22). The relation remained significant after adjusting for current mother and father engagement and current mental health. Further, the relation did not differ given family ethnicity, father type (step or biological), or adolescent sex. Future research should consider unique influences of fathers when investigating the effects of parent–child relationships on youth physiological development and health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mother, father, and adolescent self-control and adherence in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes.
    This study explored whether shared self-control across a family system, including adolescent, mother, and father self-control, as well as the interaction of mother and father self-control, was associated with ease of completing adherence tasks and the completion of adherence behaviors related to the Type 1 diabetes (T1D) regimen. One hundred thirty-seven adolescents (M = 13.48 years), mothers, and fathers completed a self-report measure of self-control, while adolescents also self-reported on ease of completing adherence tasks and the frequency with which they completed adherence tasks. Higher adolescent, mother, father, and the interaction of mother and father self-control were each associated with greater adolescent perceptions of ease of completing adherence tasks. Also, greater adolescent perception of ease of adherence mediated the association of higher adolescent, father, and the interaction of mother and father self-control on more frequent adherence behaviors. The results are consistent with the idea that family members may share the load of self-control within the family system. The results point to the importance of assessing and intervening within the entire family system to support improved quality of life and better adherence to the medical regimen in adolescents with Type 1 diabetes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Mother–adolescent conflict types and adolescent adjustment: A person-oriented analysis.
    This investigation was designed to identify dyadic differences in mother–adolescent conflict. In 2 studies (N = 131 and N = 147), adolescents (M = 13.88 and 14.65 years old) described the number of disagreements with mothers during the previous (1 or 3) days, their affective intensity, and perceptions of negativity in the relationship. Cluster analyses yielded 3 unique groups that replicated across studies: (a) placid dyads (50% of Study 1 participants and 36% of Study 2 participants), notable for low disagreement affective intensity and low relationship negativity; (b) explosive dyads (25% of Study 1 participants and 31% of Study 2 participants), notable for high affective intensity; and (c) squabbling dyads (25% of Study 1 participants and 33% of Study 2 participants), notable for frequent conflict. Longitudinal analyses revealed that cluster group membership was stable from 1 year to the next. Follow-up analyses indicated that adolescents in placid dyads had lower levels of internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors than those in the explosive or squabbling dyads, concurrently and prospectively. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The role of emotional capital during the early years of marriage: Why everyday moments matter.
    Throughout a marriage couples will share countless ordinary moments together that may seem trivial, but which actually have potential to affirm and strengthen relational bonds. According to theories of emotional capital, the accumulation of shared positive moments in a relationship should serve as an essential resource for protecting the relationship against threats. To date, however, few empirical studies have explored the role emotional capital may play in shaping responses to negative relationship experiences. In the current study, newly married couples completed 3 14-day daily diary tasks assessing emotional capital, negative partner behaviors, and marital satisfaction over a 3-year period, for a total of 42 potential days of diary data. Contrary to predictions, emotional capital on a given day was not associated with reactivity to relationship threats on the following day. However, conceptually replicating prior work, individuals who accumulated more emotional capital on average across the diary tasks did exhibit lower reactivity to daily relationship threats; that is, on days of greater relationship threat (i.e., negative partner behaviors), those spouses who generally accrued more shared positive moments with their partner maintained greater feelings of marital satisfaction compared with spouses who accrued fewer positive moments. These findings contribute to a growing literature illustrating how positive shared activities between partners help sustain relationship quality over time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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