Thesis

Interparental conflict in stepfather families and emerging adults' well-being

Prior literature suggests that interparental conflict relates to negative outcomes in their children. The purpose of this study was to examine overt interparental conflict, covert interparental conflict, and degree of interparental conflict resolution in two parental dyads in relation to emerging adults' depressive symptoms in stepfather families. The two dyads examined were interparental conflict between (1) residential biological mother and non-residential biological father and (2) residential biological mother and residential stepfather. Data for this thesis were collected through an online survey that targeted 18 to 25 year olds who have lived in a stepfather family household as an adolescent or a young adult. Participants were either (1) college students who were a part of a psychology human subject pool at a university in Southern California (n = 348) or (2) community members who took the online survey through Amazon Mechanical Turk (n = 209). Results indicated that overt and covert interparental conflict between both dyads significantly and positively correlated with emerging adults' depressive symptoms in stepfather families. Also, degree of interparental conflict resolution significantly and negatively correlated with emerging adults' depressive symptoms. Also, overt conflict between the biological mother and stepfather predicted emerging adults' depressive symptoms more strongly than overt conflict between the biological parents. However, covert conflict between the biological parents more strongly related with emerging adults' outcomes compared to covert conflict between the biological mother and stepfather. Lastly, the results indicated that degree of interparental conflict resolution did not moderate the relationship between overt and covert interparental conflict and emerging adults' depressive symptoms in either of the two parental dyads. Implications for policy makers, program developers, and practitioners are presented.

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