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Marital Tension Between Mom And Dad Harms Parent's Bond With Child

Update Date: Aug 06, 2014 11:28 AM EDT

When mom and dad argue or have tensions in their relationship, children suffer too, a new study has found. 

According to the study, dads particularly let the negative emotions and tension from their marriage spill over and harm the bond they have with their child, the press release added. 

Researchers said the findings suggest that the quality of a marriage is closely tied to each parent's bond with their child. 

Researchers obtained the data from 203 families where family members had to complete daily diary entries for 15 days. Moms and dads had to rate the quality of their marriage and their relationship with their child at the end of each day. 

Researchers observed that when parents reported tension and conflict in their marriage, simultaneously that day's interaction with their child also got affected. 

Researchers also reported distinct differences in moms and dads. 

The press release added that in situations where the quality of the marriage was low, moms appeared to compartmentalize the problems they were having in their marriage by the next day. 

"In fact, in that situation, moms appeared to compensate for their marital tension," said study's lead author, psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, in the press release. "Poor marital quality actually predicted an improvement in the relationship between the mom and the child. So, the first day's adverse spillover is short lived for moms."

However the same was not the case for dads. 

"In families where the mom was showing signs of depression, dads on the other hand let the marital tension spill over, with the result being poorer interactions with their child, even on the next day," she said.

Researchers concluded that the marriage quality affected the entire family. 

"We see from the findings that the marriage is a hub relationship for the family," Kouros added. "The quality of that relationship spills over into each parent's interactions with the child. So if mom and dad are fighting, it will show up initially - and in some cases on the second day - in a poorer quality relationship with their kids."

Findings of the study were published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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