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Mother-Child Conflict in an At-Risk Sample: Links to Historical and Concurrent Factors and Children's Socio-Emotional Functioning


Mother-Child Conflict in an At-Risk Sample: Links to Historical and Concurrent Factors and Children's Socio-Emotional Functioning

Martin, Julie P. (2016) Mother-Child Conflict in an At-Risk Sample: Links to Historical and Concurrent Factors and Children's Socio-Emotional Functioning. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Disagreements over mundane, and sometimes more serious, issues represent an integral aspect of day-to-day mother-child interactions that have important implications for children's development. Investigating mother-child conflict in at-risk families is especially important given the increased probability of psychosocial problems.
The present dissertation was designed to examine how mothers and preadolescent children manage and resolve conflicts, including associations with problem-solving, maternal risk (childhood histories, concurrent functioning, and education), and children's socio-emotional functioning across contexts (i.e., perceived social competence, internalizing and externalizing problems, and test-taking behaviors). Participants (n = 95) were mothers and their 9-to 13-year-old children from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project; a prospective, intergenerational study of children from low SES neighborhoods screened along dimensions of aggression and social withdrawal and followed into parenthood. Observational measures were used to code mother-child conflict and problem-solving behaviors during a videotaped conflict task. A multi-informant approach was employed to assess children's social skills and problems, including children's behaviors during a standardized cognitive assessment.
Results from Study 1 demonstrated that mother-child conflict is not necessarily aversive and destructive, as well as revealed several core features of mother-child conflict during middle childhood. Whereas maternal education was uniquely associated with constructive and relatively harmonious mother-child conflict behaviors (controlling for other SES markers), the reverse was found for the effects of maternal distress at the time of testing. Maternal education also served as a protective factor for mothers with childhood histories of social withdrawal by enhancing their ability to communicate in an assertive and nonthreatening manner. Results from Study 2 underscored the importance of flexible and problem-focused behaviors in promoting mother-child problem-solving, while highlighting children's role in shaping resolution. The cross-context applicability of children's positive and negative conflict behaviors was also demonstrated, with variations across contexts and informants. Maternal childhood histories of aggression or social withdrawal negatively predicted children's IQ scores, which in turn, predicted more careless and disorganized test-taking behaviors.
Results from this series of two studies advance current knowledge on mother-child conflict in middle childhood and draw attention to contextual variables that influence these conflicts. Findings elucidate how risk and protective factors interact to contribute to pathways leading to adaptive and maladaptive outcomes in disadvantaged communities. Together, results have implications for developing policies and programs that promote healthy relationships in vulnerable families and potentially disrupt cycles of intergenerational risk.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Martin, Julie P.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:April 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Stack, Dale M
Keywords:Mother-Child Conflict; Middle Childhood: Socio-Emotional Functioning; Risk; Resiliency; Intergenerational
ID Code:981190
Deposited By: JULIE MARTIN
Deposited On:16 Jun 2016 15:53
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:52


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