Does Child Gender Moderate the Relationship between Interparental Conflict and Child Outcomes? Findings from the Danish Longitudinal Study of Children

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Abstract

The hypothesis that child gender moderates the relationship between interparental conflict (IPC), conceptualized as a normative phenomenon, and child outcomes was evaluated using Danish mother data from the Danish Longitudinal Survey of Children (DALSC), which follows a nationally representative sample of children born in September-October 1995. IPC was assessed at age seven using a five-item scale measuring frequency of quarrels between parents on topics common to daily family life. Child outcomes were evaluated at age eleven using three indicators of internalizing (emotional problems, somatic symptoms, psychological symptoms) and two indicators of externalizing symptoms (conduct problems and hyperactivity). OLS regression analyses indicated, overall, that the longitudinal association between IPC and the chosen outcomes was weak and child gender weakly moderated the association between IPC and child outcomes. Specifically, gender differences were limited only to conduct problems after controlling for the child's psycho-social adjustment and health characteristics, mother's depressive symptoms and disciplinary behaviour and parents' socio-economic status at age 7. Furthermore, contrary to expectations derived from the male vulnerability and differential reactivity models, the IPC-conduct problems association was stronger among girls than among boys. In general, IPC predicted a number of outcomes among girls but did not predict any among boys. These findings suggest that it is important in both academic and professional work to consider that the impact of IPC on boys and girls may vary depending on the nature of the conflict and the type of families affected by it. Furthermore, while IPC may not have a direct impact over time, its effects may continue to be felt through other elements of the family system, such as the parent-child relationship.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNorsk Epidemiologi
Volume20
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
ISSN0803-2491
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • children and youth

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