Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of
Investigating moderators of daily marital to parent–child spillover: Individual and family systems approaches
Patty X. Kuo https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2185-4537
Date of this Version
Family Relations. 2022;1–19.
Objective: We tested whether cognitive reappraisal and coparenting quality moderate marital to parent–child spillover in mothers and fathers.
Background: The influence of marital relationship quality on parent–child relationships, referred to as the spillover effect, is well documented. Factors that may attenuate the occurrence of spillover, however, remain unclear. Cognitive reappraisal, an emotion regulation strategy that promotes the reframing of emotional situations as neutral or positive, and coparenting—the intermediate subsystem between the marital and parent–child relationships—may buffer the effects of marital to parent–child spillover.
Method: Using daily diary data from mother–father couples (N = 96) of young children (Mage = 3.22 years), we investigated coparenting quality and cognitive reappraisal as moderators of marital and parent–child spillover within and between days.
Results: Dyadic multilevel models revealed within-day spillover of marital emotional climate and parent–child emotional climate for both mothers and fathers. Whereas cognitive reappraisal moderated spillover for fathers, no significant moderators emerged for mothers. Fathers also experienced next-day associations between marital emotional climate and parent–child emotional climate the following day, whereas mothers did not. Coparenting quality accounted for next-day associations between fathers’ marital emotional climate and parent–child climate.
Conclusion: Overall, our results evince that although spillover can be attenuated by both cognitive reappraisal and coparenting quality for fathers, the same is not true for mothers.
Implications: These results signify the importance of considering mother and father differences in empirical investigations of spillover effects and processes within the family system, and the clinical implications recommended to marriage and family therapists.
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