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Q: childhood development ( Answered 1 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: childhood development
Category: Family and Home
Asked by: grandpop-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 21 Oct 2002 14:20 PDT
Expires: 20 Nov 2002 13:20 PST
Question ID: 86124
I would like find the latest research on the effect of parenal discord
on the devlopment of children in the household

Clarification of Question by grandpop-ga on 21 Oct 2002 14:22 PDT
for paren read parent
Subject: Re: childhood development
Answered By: angy-ga on 22 Oct 2002 00:05 PDT
Rated:1 out of 5 stars
Hi, Granpop-ga !

Patrick Davies, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rochester
University specialises in this area. He works in the Developmental
Faculty of the Psychology Department. He holds a current research
grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH57318) for
the study of "Family Process, Emotional Security, and Child

He writes:

My broad area of interest lies in children's socio/emotional
adaptation and maladaptation within the context of close interpersonal
relationships especially in family contexts. My three major research
aims include: (a) delineating the processes (e.g., emotional
reactivity, coping, appraisals) underlying links between family and
interparental discord and children's social and emotional adjustment;
(b) examining the effects on interparental conflict on children in the
context of broader family relationships and systems; and (c) charting
familial and psychosocial pathways responsible for the risk posed by
parental distress and maladjustment (e.g., parental depressive
symptoms, alcohol problems). Research addressing these aims is guided
by a theoretical framework called the emotional security hypothesis
(Davies & Cummings, 1994). The primary assumption of this theory is
that family and other interpersonal stressors increase children's risk
for psychological maladjustment by undermining their goal of
preserving their emotional security."

His recent publications include:

	Davies, P. T., & Forman, E. M. (in press). Children's patterns of
preserving emotional security in the interparental subsystem. Child
	Davies, P. T. (in press). Conceptual links between Byng-Hall's
Theory of Parentification and the Emotional Security Hypothesis.
Family Process.
	Davies, P. T., Forman, E. M., Rasi, J. A., & Stevens, K. I. (2002).
Assessing children's emotional security in the interparental
subsystem: The Security in the Interparental Subsystem (SIS) Scales.
Child Development, 73, 544-562.
	Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (2002). Effects of marital discord
on children: Recent advances and emerging themes in process-oriented
research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 31-63.
	Davies, P. T., & Windle, M. (2001). Interparental discord and
adolescent adjustment trajectories: The potentiating and protective
role of intrapersonal attributes. Child Development, 72, 1163-1178.
	Davies, P. T., & Lindsay, L. (2001). Does gender moderate the effects
of 	conflict on children? In J. Grych & F. Fincham (Eds.), Child
Development and 	Interparental Conflict (pp. 64-97). New York:
Cambridge University Press.

His relevant publications date back to 1994. His writings do not
appear to be available on the Internet, but Dr. Davies can be
contacted at:

Meliora Hall
RC Box 270266 
Rochester, NY 14627-0266 
Telephone: (585) 273-4672 
      E-mail :

The web page was updated in September this year.

A Press Release from Pennsylvania State University dated 26 Nov 2001
summarises some research by Dr. Paul Amato and Dr. Alan Booth,
Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Human Development.

They found that: 

"Parents who are jealous, moody, inclined to fly off the handle,
critical and prone to dominate their spouse have a far worse effect on
their children's marriage than does parental divorce or poor
parent-child relations ......

Parental divorce by itself does not substantially mar the matrimonial
happiness of children. Neither is the children's marital quality
necessarily lessened by poor relationships with their parents during
adolescence; psychological distress resulting from parental discord;
or deficits in their parents' socio-economic status and their levels
of education."

This press release is quoted on several different web sites.

Amato and Booth's  paper  "The Legacy of Parents' Marital Discord:
Consequences for Children's Marital Quality," was published in the
October 2001 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology., and was the result of a 21 year longitudinal study.

More details of the study are on the Penn State Population Research
Institute Site.

Some of the early data can be downloaded from the Inter-University
Consortium for Political and Social Research at:

Not all of it will be relevant to your interests, since the thrust of
the study is on Marital Instability in general. A form to request
access to the latest data is at:

Some of Amato and Booth's research is summarised in a very clear
fashion in an article by Harriet Shacklee, Family Development
Specialist, University of Idaho Cooperative Extension at:

A clear, accessible article, on another researcher, by Kim Anderson
can be found at:

Called: "Angry, Happy, Scared, Sad: How Parental Conflict Affects
Children's Emotions" it discusses the  research of Paul Silverman,
professor of developmental psychology at The University of Montana. In
the interview Silverman says:

"..there's been very little research on the relationship between
aspects of family life-like arguing-and the child's emotional
understanding and coping."

There is a good description of the way the study is being conducted
and his techniques for interviewing the children in a "play"

"Silverman doesn't believe that all family conflict is detrimental to
children. Instead he suspects that some family discord can contribute,
in a healthy way, to a child's psychological development. Analysis of
the data collected ... so far seems to bear this out.

 'Some degree of conflict can be healthy in that it helps children
recognize and understand angry emotions,' Silverman says. 'That's how
we model working out problems. But what happens to a child's
psychological development when the arousal level gets too high for
their coping skills?' Other research has shown, he says, that 'hot' or
intense emotional climates within families and lots of parent-parent
and parent-child conflict can play important roles in the development
of psychological disorders in children.

The nature of the conflict also makes a difference. 'When parents
argue about the child in front of the child, that can be damaging,'
Silverman says. 'When parents argue in ways that are demeaning and
purposefully hurtful, that certainly will have a different effect than
calmer, more impersonal disagreements.' "

The interview was published in Fall 1998.

Professor Paul Silverman's resume is on his web page at:

Here he says:

"My research interests focus primarily on children's understanding of
mental processes and metaphor. This has led me in a variety of
directions. Currently I am examining young children's understanding of
conflicting emotions, how this is influenced by exposure to parental
discord, and how both contribute to psychopathology. Other projects
underway include an examination of children's comprehension of and
emotional reactions to fairy tales, the effectiveness of
psycholtherapy (sic) with foster children, and the effects of an
intervention program with autistic children. I am also interested in
nonhuman primates' understanding of mind, and have written
occasionally on that topic."

A 1998 presentation entitled "Is Family the Wellspring of Antisocial
Behavior, Delinquency and Violence: a Synthesis" by James D. Herzon
PhD. of the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, Nashville,
is online as a .pdf file at:

There are some interesting charts outlining possible effects of
different aspects of family behaviour. There are no definite
conclusions to be found here.

An excellent overview of child /developmental psychology, designed for
students by Kevin McNeill can be found at:

On parenting styles he comment:

"Diana Baumrind identified three types of parenting styles.
Authoritarian parents seek to control a child's every action, causing
the child to become suspicious and withdrawn. Permissive parents allow
almost total freedom and rarely use discipline. The children of such
parents do not show much self-control or self-reliance. Authoritative
parents give their children freedom within limits. The children of
these parents are competent and self-controlled. "

A 1998 article on "Children and Divorce: a Snapshot" by Hilda
Rodriguez and Chandler Arnold discussed the impact of high conflict
marriages on the children, and clearly compares the likely effects on
children remaining in a high conflict intact marriage situation, as
opposed to experiencing the disruption of divorce. Rodriguez and
Chandler do not give references to the research on which they are

I do not know whether you are asking this question because of personal
concerns, but be aware that it is sometimes very difficult to judge
the dynamic of someone else's marriage. To give a personal example, my
grandmother once told a friend that my parents had a very bad marriage
"because they were always quarrelling". My parents, who adored each
other throughout a 56 yr marriage until my mother died, certainly
engaged in lively debate but I don't recall them ever quarrelling. I
certainly hope you have no real grounds for concern.

Search terms:

"parental discord child development"
grandpop-ga rated this answer:1 out of 5 stars
First of all ,keep theten bucks,I really dont care about the sum
involved and wish you well in this endeavor.The researcher howver
obviously knows little or less about the subject.The quality
ofresearch in this area has been very low for the past forty years
.for example he first research noted stated that children are harmed
far mnore by parents who stay in a high tension relationship more than
they would by divorce.this was the accepted dogma inthe late sixties
in order to justify divorce and woman being free to be men if they
wanted to be.The rest of the citations are the standard sociological
gobbldygook.All the recent data including a number of books on the
subject,some by the same authors who drew the opposite conclusion in
the seventies have now concluded that divorce is a disaster for the
children.Better a battling set of parents than a divorced pair.Let me
offer a suggestion.If the authors cited cannot speak the English
language don t pay attenion to them.When they use words to obscure
meaning it usually means they haven t a clue

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