Connections between dimensions of marital quality and school-age children's adjustment

Susan M. McHale, Milam K. Freitag, Ann C. Crouter, W. Todd Bartko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study provides data relevant to potential explanations for the linkages between marital relationships and children's functioning in a nonclinic sample of school-age children. Subjects were 152 intact families (mothers, fathers, and firstborn children) participating in a longitudinal study of family relationships. The children, 85 girls and 67 boys, were 9-12 years of age. In home interviews, mothers, fathers, and children independently rated dimensions of the marriage relationship and children's internalizing and externalizing problems. Children's school grades also were obtained. Analyses revealed that parent's reports of marital conflict, dissatisfaction about their spouse's child-rearing philosophy, and global marital satisfaction, as well as children's ratings of the marriage were linked to some indices of children's adjustment. Rater effects, however, accounted for most of the observed associations. We found little evidence for a modeling hypothesis whereby marital conflict is linked to child adjustment problems, but some evidence that boys, in particular, might be adversely affected by parental disagreement about childrearing strategies. The necessity of obtaining data from multiple sources about both the marriage and children's adjustment is emphasized, as is the importance of moving away from global indices of marital quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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