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Volume 3 Issue 1 (March 1994), Pages 1-87

Marital conflict and children's functioning (pages 16-36)


Marital conflict is a key factor in adjustment problems in children. Research is reviewed indicating that conflicts are stressful for children, and increase their aggression and enmeshment in parental disputes. Field studies, supported by recent experimental tests, indicate that sensitization to destructive conflict occurs, resulting in greater reactivity. Marital conflict can disrupt parenting and attachments, increase aggression between siblings, and even impact extended family members such as grandparents. Intense, aggressive conflicts and those centering on the child are particularly destructive. By contrast, resolution much reduces negative reactions and can be detected through a variety of channels of information.

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