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Maternal Work–Family Experiences: Longitudinal Influences on Child Mental Health through Inter-Parental Conflict

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2019, 00:00 authored by A Vahedi, I Krug, Matthew Fuller-TyszkiewiczMatthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Elizabeth WestruppElizabeth Westrupp
Objectives: Recent evidence suggests that parents’ negative experiences of combining work and family roles can have harmful effects on children, but little is known about the mechanisms that explain the crossover from the work–family interface to children’s mental health over time. This study tested whether inter-parental conflict mediated the relation between maternal work–family factors (conflict or enrichment) and subsequent child mental health problems across childhood (4–5 to 8–9 years) and adolescence (10–11 to 14–15 years). Methods: Data were six waves from the kindergarten cohort of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, including mother-report of work–family conflict/enrichment and inter-parental conflict, mother- and adolescent-report of internalizing and externalizing problems, and adolescent-report of disordered eating. The final sample consisted of 2158 children and 2181 adolescents. Results: Results from structural equation modeling indicated that during childhood, inter-parental conflict partially mediated the relation between maternal work–family conflict and child internalizing problems, but not externalizing problems. During adolescence, there was no evidence for mediation, although work–family conflict was associated with higher adolescent-reported externalizing problems; and inter-parental conflict was also associated with elevated mother-reported internalizing and externalizing problems. Both work–family conflict and enrichment were associated with elevated inter-parental conflict during childhood, but not adolescence. There was no evidence for associations between work–family factors and adolescents’ disordered eating, and work–family enrichment was not associated with child or adolescent mental health. Conclusions: Intervention programs aimed at reducing both work–family conflict and inter-parental conflict over early childhood are likely to benefit children and families most.



Journal of Child and Family Studies


1 - 12




Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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