(U.S.) New research suggests that when parents can’t resolve their differences in a peaceful way, it can threaten a child’s emotional security.
The recent research was published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence and suggest when parents become verbally aggressive and blame or put down each other, children feel less confident in their parents’ ability to support and protect them.
Researchers also note this could lead to the child having more emotional and behavior problems.
While conflicts between parents affect families from all socioeconomic backgrounds, the study finds that rates tend to be higher in low-income households that face poverty, stress, and unemployment.
Nearly 1,300 low-income, unmarried mothers in eight U.S. cities were asked about their children’s behavior when conflict with the father arises. In order to qualify for the study, parents needed to have some contact with each other, at least a few times a month.
Additionally, about 17 percent of the mothers surveyed also reported abuse.
Researchers reported that constructive conflict was associated with decreased levels of both child emotional insecurity and child behavior problems, whereas destructive conflict was associated with increased levels of both child outcomes.
Such findings suggest the need for clinicians to help raise awareness regarding the consequences of children’s exposure to different interparental conflict and educate parents about children’s sense of emotional security in the family.