Implications of Interparental Conflict for Children?s Self-Control and the Mediating Role of Parenting Practices

Amy Madigan

Advisor: Adam Winsler, PhD, Department of Psychology

The Hub, 7
April 11, 2005, 08:00 PM to 07:00 PM


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between interparental conflict and children?s capacity for self-control and how that relationship may be mediated and/or moderated by parents? child-rearing practices. A sample of 89 children (three to five years old) and their mothers participated in a laboratory-based observational study. Children?s capacity for self-control was assessed through a battery of self-control tasks, and mothers completed a questionnaire measuring interparental conflict, parenting practices, and children?s behavior problems. Overall, there was a trend for children from homes with high levels of conflict between parents to demonstrate deficits in self-control. Although little support was found for the mediation model, there was evidence of the moderating effects of parenting practices on the relationship between interparental conflict and children?s self-control. That is, children demonstrated greater self-control despite high conflic t between parents when parents used authoritative parenting strategies. Conversely, the negative effects of interparental conflict on children?s self-control were aggravated by authoritarian parenting. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research and interventions designed to help hard-to-manage children gain self-control.