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The relationships between marital distress and child behaviour problems, maternal personal adjustment, maternal personality, and maternal parenting behaviour Bond, Catherine R.


The purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationship of marital adjustment to maternal personal adjustment, maternal personality, maternal perception of child adjustment, maternal parenting behaviour and child behaviour. Two groups of mothers and their children participated in the study: Mothers in the maritally distressed group (n = 20) rated themselves on a self-report inventory as experiencing significant marital distress; mothers in the maritally nondistressed group (n = 20) rated themselves on the same inventory as having satisfactory marital relationships. Children ranged in age between 3 and 7 years of age. Self-report measures assessing personal adjustment, personality and perception of child adjustment were completed by the mothers. In addition, maternal parenting behaviour and child behaviour were assessed by independent observers in home observations. Separate Hotelling's T² analyses were conducted on each of the five sets of dependent measures. Results indicated that compared to mothers in the maritally non-distressed group, mothers in the distressed group perceived themselves as significantly more anxious and depressed and perceived their children as having significantly more problems especially in the area of undercontrol. There" were no differences between the groups with respect to maternal personality. The results for the parent and child behavioural data were less clear. There was a trend for maritally distressed mothers to give less positive attention "to their children than the non-distressed mothers gave to their children, and for children of maritally distressed mothers to be less compliant than children of non-distressed mothers. A step-wise discriminant function analysis revealed that maternal anxiety and maternal perception of child aggression made significant non-redundant contributions to the discrimination of maritally distressed and non-distressed marriages. The results were discussed in terms of the implications for the assessment and treatment of maritally distressed mothers and their children.

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