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Parental Conflict, Marital Disruption, and Children’s Emotional Well Being

Publication Abstract

Jekielek, Susan. 1998. "Parental Conflict, Marital Disruption, and Children’s Emotional Well Being." Social Forces, 76(3): 905-936.

This article uses data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth to examine the question: Are children better off when they remain in two-parent families characterized by marital conflict, or are they better off when their parents dissolve their marital relationship? I find that both parental marital conflict and marital disruption increase the later anxiety and depression/withdrawal of children aged 6–14 (n = 1,640). I also find significant interactions: Children remaining in high conflict environments generally exhibit lower levels of well-being than children who have experienced high levels of parental conflict but whose parents divorce or separate. These results support the possibility that marital disruption, following high conflict, may actually improve the emotional well-being of children relative to a high conflict family status.


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