Daily spillover in conflict from the marital relationship to the parent-child relationship: the moderating role of attributes associated with parent emotion-related regulation
Research has consistently documented that negativity generated in the marital relationship will "spill over" to negatively influence how parents interact with their children. The present study uses a daily reporting design to examine the spillover in naturally-occurring conflict from the marital relationship to the parent-child relationship over a week-long period. The present study also explores the direct and interaction effects of temperament and personality factors associated with emotion-related regulation on these spillover processes. This is the first known study to examine the spillover in specific conflict strategies and to link distal personality and temperament variables to micro-level processes such as day-to-day family conflict. Participants were 61 parents with a preadolescent child "at-risk" for aggressive behavior. Parents reported on their experience of marital and parent-child conflict and their use of constructive and destructive conflict strategies through daily telephone interviews. Personality and temperament ratings were collected through baseline interviews with participants in their homes or community settings. Primary analyses revealed a spillover in conflict and constructive conflict across one time period and across one full day. Parents' emotion-related regulation had direct effects on parents' use of constructive and destructive conflict strategies and interesting moderating effects on the spillover in conflict. Secondary analyses tested potential child effects. Findings have important clinical implications for adaptive intervention programs and family therapies targeting children at-risk for behavioral problems.