Adolescent responses to depressive parental behaviors in problem-solving interactions: implications for depressive symptoms

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2000 Oct;28(5):451-65. doi: 10.1023/a:1005183622729.


The purpose of this study was to explore the relations between child responses to interparental depressive behavior and subsequent child depressive symptomatology. Data were collected on 156 two-parent families. Families completed questionnaire data and participated in problem-solving interactions, which were coded using a microsocial observational system. Three potential child responses to interparental depressive behavior were examined: facilitative, aggressive, and depressive. Results indicated that for female adolescents the displays of facilitative and depressive behavior as well as the suppression of aggressive behavior in response to interparental depressive behavior were related to increases in depressive symptomatology. For males, on the other hand, the display of aggressive and depressive behavior in response to interparental depressive behavior was related to increases in depression. Results provide preliminary support both for the examination of child responses to conflictual marital behavior and for expanding the conceptualization of conflictual marital behaviors to include depressive as well as the more traditionally examined aggressive behaviors, in order to better understand the link between conflictual marital behavior and child depressive symptomatology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Problem Solving*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires