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Aug 07, 2014 07:16 AM EDT

Marital Conflicts Harm Parents' Bond with Children, Study

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Marital conflicts can harm parents' bond with their children, according to a Southern Methodist study.

The researchers said that dads, especially, allow conflicts to adversely affect their relationship with their children; whereas moms are able to put the arguments at the back of their minds and not let it interfere with everyday tasks, and can act normal in front of their kids.

The finding suggests that the quality of a marriage is directly proportional to the type of bond a parent shares with his/her children.

For the study, the researchers asked 203 families to complete daily diary entries for 15 days. Parents scored the quality of their marriage and their relationship with their child at the end of each day.

The researchers found that on days when parents reported tension and conflict in their marriage, they equally had tensed interactions with their children. During these situations, moms - in particular - were able to push the problems in their marriage behind the next day.

"In fact, in that situation, moms appeared to compensate for their marital tension," study's lead author psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros said in a statement. "Poor marital quality actually predicted an improvement in the relationship between the mom and the child. So, the first day's adverse spillover is short lived for moms."

"In families where the mom was showing signs of depression, dads on the other hand let the marital tension spill over, with the result being poorer interactions with their child, even on the next day."

Kouros, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, said that in some cases the consequences of a marital conflict appears on the second in a poorer quality relationship with their kids.

The psychologist concluded that marriage is a hub relationship for the family and its quality affects the whole family.

The study, titled "Spillover between marital quality and parent-child relationship quality: Parental depressive symptoms as moderators", is published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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