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Interpersonal Relationships and HealthSocial and Clinical Psychological Mechanisms$
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Christopher R. Agnew and Susan C. South

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199936632

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199936632.001.0001

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Interparental Conflict and Children’s Mental Health

Interparental Conflict and Children’s Mental Health

Emerging Directions in Emotional Security Theory

(p.179) Chapter 8 Interparental Conflict and Children’s Mental Health
Interpersonal Relationships and Health

E. Mark Cummings

Kalsea J. Koss

Rebecca Y. M. Cheung

Oxford University Press

Interparental conflict characterized by anger, aggression, and hostility puts children at risk for developing a host of negative mental health outcomes. This chapter provides an overview of a prevailing theoretical model, emotional security theory (EST), for understanding the processes underlying the association between marital conflict and child adjustment. In the face of marital discord, children are motivated to preserve and restore their sense of security in the family. The present chapter discusses current research examining the long-term impact of insecurity on child adjustment as well as the psychological and physiological indicators of children’s insecurity about the marital relationship. Additionally, this chapter highlights current research directions in EST and illustrates the role of children’s security in broader contexts, including broader family functioning (e.g., parental depressive symptoms) and sociocultural contexts (e.g., political violence).

Keywords:   marital conflict, emotional security theory, EST, child adjustment, mental health, regulatory processes, family process, political violence

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