Developmental outcomes of marital and parenting variables for children with conduct problems
For a sample of 70 clinic-referred children with conduct problems (CP), and their families, family interaction variables measured at post-treatment were used to predict child problem behaviors one year later. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was utilized to identify factors for the child outcome, and for the marital and parenting processes. It was hypothesized that positive and negative factors for parenting and marital processes would emerge, and that all four factors would predict child outcome. Two child outcome factors were developed: one for child social competence and one for child negative/immature emotion. The child outcome factors utilized measures from three informants, parent, teacher and objective observer. Positive and negative marital behavior factors were constructed from observations of marital interaction, as well as a third marital factor based on self-report of marital consensus. Parent observation variables were employed as single-indicator factors, one negative and one positive. Positive and negative marital and parenting factors provided a model of how family processes affect child social competence and child management of negative emotion. Models showed that marriage has both direct and indirect effects on child outcome, and that positive marriage in particular directly effects child social competence. Parenting has effects on both child social competence and child emotion management: mother inappropriate parenting predicted less social skill, and father praise predicted better management of negative, immature emotionality for the child. The finding for indirect effects showed that mothers' parenting practices (inappropriate parenting) mediate the effects of negative marital processes. This exploratory study has clinical implications for prevention and intervention work for children with CP. It appears that increasing particular interaction skills in the home can help these children: increasing positive marital communication, increasing father praise and decreasing inappropriate discipline practices can separately and independently contribute to child improvement. Furthermore, for young children with CP it is important to focus on their regulation of a range of negative emotions, as well as their developing social competence.
- Education - Seattle