The effects of interparental conflict and parent-child conflict on young adult adjustment: A model

Kira Berke Blaustein, Fordham University


This study investigated the additive and interactive effects of interparental conflict, parent-child conflict, attachment, and perceived family and friend support on college students' self-esteem and depression. Previous research on young adult adjustment often has relied on the exclusive use of instruments that specifically measure college adjustment. Ninety-nine female and 37 male undergraduates (mean age = 19.4 years) from two small private Catholic universities were studied using self-report measures of the constructs listed above. Correlational findings indicated that conflict in the parents' marital relationship was linked to conflict in the parent-student dyad. Students who felt free from conflict with parents felt more attached to parents, perceived more support from family, and had higher self-esteem, and fewer depressive symptoms. Those students with greater attachment to parents also perceived more family support and had higher self-esteem. In turn, students perceiving more support from family and friends had higher self-esteem and fewer depressive symptoms. Multiple regression analyses indicated that interparental conflict, freedom from conflict with parents, attachment to parents and peers, and perceived family and friend support together predicted both self-esteem and depression. In addition, freedom from conflict with parents moderated the impact of interparental conflict on self-esteem and depression, such that the combination of low levels of interparental conflict and low levels of freedom from conflict with parents most seriously impaired adjustment. Results are discussed in terms of their consistency with previous research, the context of adolescent separation/individuation and identity formation, methodological issues, and implications for the parent-child relationship and college student counselors.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Blaustein, Kira Berke, "The effects of interparental conflict and parent-child conflict on young adult adjustment: A model" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9926889.