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Acta Psychologica Sinica
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Links between Marital Relationship and Child-Parent Relationship: Mediating Effects of Parents’ Emotional Expressiveness
LIANG Zongbao;ZHANG Guangzhen;DENG Huihua;SONG Yuan;ZHENG Wenming;SUN Ling
(1 Research Center for Learning Science/Key Laboratory of Child Development and Learning Science, Ministry of Education, Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China) (2 Department of Child Health Care, Suzhou Municipal Hospital, Suzhou 215002, China) (3 Central University of Finance & Economics, School of Social Development, Department of Psychology, Beijing, 100081, China)
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Abstract  

Family is viewed as a hierarchically organized system, which is comprised of marital, parental and sibling subsystems. The interaction of family subsystems is important for understanding children’s social development. Although numerous studies have indicated that marital and child-parent relationship are interrelated, it is unclear how marital relationship influences child-parent relationship. Researchers have argued that marital relationship impacts child-parent relationship through parenting behavior. Parents who experience harmonious marriage tend to exhibit sensitive parenting, and develop warm parent-child relationship, while parents who experience conflictive marital relationship may exhibit harsh parenting, and develop low quality parent-child relationship. In addition, parental emotional socialization behavior may serve as a mediator of links between marital relationship and child-parent relationship; marital conflict or ambivalence is associated with parents’ negative expressiveness, and a supportive marital relationship is associated with parents’ positive expressiveness. Positive or negative parental expressiveness in turn may affect parent-child relationships. The current longitudinal study explored the mediating effects of parental emotional expressiveness in family on relations between marital relationship and parent-child relationship during three preschool years. We hypothesized that parents with a good quality marital relationship would display more positive emotional expressiveness and inhibit negative emotional expressiveness in the family, which result in good relationships with their children. Four hundred and fifty four preschoolers (254 boys and 200 girls, Mage = 50.92 months, SD = 4.21 at the first stage) and their parents participated in this study. Fathers and mothers reported their marital quality and emotional expressiveness, and rated their relationships with their child. The path analysis revealed that paternal positive and negative emotional expressiveness and maternal positive emotional expressiveness in the second year completely mediated the relation between marital quality in the first year and child-parent intimacy in the third year when intimate child-father relationship or intimate child-mother relationship were controlled in the first year. Specifically, father who experienced higher marital quality in the first year tended to express more positive emotions and less negative emotions in family in the second year, and had more intimate child-father relationship in the third year when intimate child-father relationship in the first year was controlled. However, maternal negative emotional expressiveness in the first year did not mediate the relation between marital quality in the second year and intimate child-father relationship in the third year. Moreover, mother who experienced higher marital quality in the first year tended to express more positive emotions in family in the second year, and had more intimacy child-mother relationship in the third year when intimate child-mother relationship in the first year was controlled, and paternal negative emotional expressiveness in the first year did not mediate the relation between marital quality in the second year and intimate child-mother relationship in the third year. We discussed the results from the family system and parental emotional socialization perspectives, and provided suggestions for family education.

Keywords marital quality      child-parent relationship      parental emotional expressiveness      family system      mediating effect     
Corresponding Authors: LIANG Zongbao;ZHANG Guangzhen   
Issue Date: 25 December 2013
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LIANG Zongbao
ZHANG Guangzhen
DENG Huihua
SONG Yuan
ZHENG Wenming
SUN Ling
Cite this article:   
LIANG Zongbao,ZHANG Guangzhen,DENG Huihua, et al. Links between Marital Relationship and Child-Parent Relationship: Mediating Effects of Parents’ Emotional Expressiveness[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.01355
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.01355     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2013/V45/I12/1355
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