Links Between Marital and Parent–Child Relationship in African American Families: A Dyadic Approach

Olivenne D. Skinner, Xiaoran Sun, Susan M. McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Grounded in a family systems perspective, we used a dyadic approach to examine longitudinal associations between parents’ marital relationship qualities (marital conflict and marital satisfaction) and parent–childwarmth and conflict in a sample of 180 African American families with adolescent-age children. We alsotested whether these associations varied as a function of family economic strain, parents’ depressivesymptoms, and parent and youth gender. Results from longitudinal, Actor–Partner Interdependence Models(APIMs) showed significant actor and partner effects for associations between marital satisfaction andparent–child relationships reflecting both spillover and compensation processes. With respect to compensation, on occasions when fathers experienced lower marital satisfaction than usual (i.e., compared to theirown cross time average), youth reported more relationship warmth with mothers than usual. Spillovereffects were moderated, such that, on occasions when parents experienced more marital satisfaction thanusual, adolescents reported more warmth, but only on occasions when parents also experienced lowereconomic strain than usual. Neither parents’ depressive symptoms nor youth gender moderated associationsbetween marriage and parent–child relationships. Results highlight interconnections between marital andparent–child relationships within African American families, the importance of assessing experiences ofmultiple family members, and the role of family contextual factors for family systems processes in thissociocultural group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1096
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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