The present study investigated the associations between multigenerational continuity in family conflict and current psychopathology symptoms and social impairment experienced by parents and adolescents. We sampled 246 families from a multigenerational, high-risk, longitudinal study of parents (G1s) and their children (G2s), followed from adolescence (Mage = 14.3 years, 57% female, 71% Caucasian, 26% Hispanic or Latino) to adulthood as well as the children of G2 targets (G3s; Mage = 12.1 years, 47% female, 51% Caucasian, 33% Hispanic or Latino). Family conflict was measured by composite latent variables incorporating mother, father, and adolescent reports in G1-G2 families and incorporating G2 target, G2 target's spouse, and G3 adolescent report in G2-G3 families. Indicators of G2 and G3 impairment including psychopathology symptoms (e.g., internalizing, externalizing, and substance use symptoms) and social role impairment (e.g., marital satisfaction, parenting behavior) were predicted from G1-G2 family conflict, G2-G3 family conflict, and the interaction between G1-G2 and G2-G3 family conflict. Results indicate that G1-G2 family conflict uniquely predicted indicators of G2 and G3 psychopathology, as well as G2 social impairment, even after controlling for more temporally proximal G2-G3 family conflict. Results further indicate that for G2 externalizing, internalizing, and marital functioning outcomes, high G2-G3 family conflict was associated with highest G2 impairment when G1-G2 family conflict was also high. It appears that for many G2 outcomes the interactive effects of multigenerational conflict are associated with greater risk for impairment.
- Family conflict
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