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


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–child warmth and conflict in a sample of 180 African American families with adolescent-age children. We also tested whether these associations varied as a function of family economic strain, parents’ depressive symptoms, and parent and youth gender. Results from longitudinal, Actor–Partner Interdependence Models (APIMs) showed significant actor and partner effects for associations between marital satisfaction and parent–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 their own cross time average), youth reported more relationship warmth with mothers than usual. Spillover effects were moderated, such that, on occasions when parents experienced more marital satisfaction than usual, adolescents reported more warmth, but only on occasions when parents also experienced lower economic strain than usual. Neither parents’ depressive symptoms nor youth gender moderated associations between marriage and parent–child relationships. Results highlight interconnections between marital and parent–child relationships within African American families, the importance of assessing experiences of multiple family members, and the role of family contextual factors for family systems processes in this sociocultural group. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this