Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Human Development and Family Studies
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Committee Member 3
The present study explored the concurrent relations between interparental conflict strategies and early child-parent attachment relationships, while considering potential mediating (i.e., parental sensitivity) and moderating (i.e., involvement of child in conflict) variables in the relations. A nonclinical sample of mostly non-Hispanic Caucasian triads (i.e., mother, father, child) were recruited. Parental sensitivity and children's attachment security were observed across four visits: one visit was in the home with mother, one visit was in the home with father, one visit was in the park with mother, and one visit was in the park with father. In a fifth visit, in the research lab, parents completed a series of questionnaires measuring interparental conflict strategies, involvement of children in interparental conflict, childrearing disagreements, and exposure of children to childrearing disagreements. The relations between the strategies used in interparental conflict and children’s attachment security with parents were explored, while examining parental sensitivity as a mediator in the relations. Results revealed evidence for an indirect path from maternal use of destructive conflict strategies to children’s attachment security with mother, but the same relation was not found for maternal constructive conflict strategies. There was no indirect path for paternal constructive strategies to children’s attachment security with father, but the indirect pathway from paternal destructive strategies to children’s attachment security approached was significant. Further, the present study examined whether the relations between interparental conflict strategies and children’s attachment security is moderated by parental involvement of children in conflict. The moderation models did not converge, but there was some evidence for mediation effects. Specifically, there was a significant indirect relation from maternal destructive conflict strategies to children’s attachment security with mother through maternal involvement of children in conflict, but the same relation was not found for maternal constructive strategies. Further, paternal constructive and destructive conflict strategies did not have indirect pathways to children’s attachment security through paternal involvement of children in conflict. However, there were significant associations between paternal constructive and destructive conflict strategies with paternal involvement of children in conflict. The study’s results shed light on how interparental conflict strategies and the content of interparental conflict (i.e., childrearing disagreements) are associated with child-parent attachment relationships in early life. In addition, this study provides supporting evidence for the sensitivity-security link for both mother-child and father-child dyads in naturalistic settings, during the toddler years. Further, results suggested that it is essential to include fathers in attachment research as the effects were different when examining mothers and fathers, which suggests that mother-child and father-child relations are both important during early childhood, but may be differentially impacted by the interparental relationship, such as the conflict strategies that parents use.
Anaya, Laura Yanett, "Interparental Conflict as a Context for Early Child-Parent Attachment Relationships" (2018). Open Access Dissertations. 1902.