Parental depressive symptoms and adolescent adjustment: A prospective test of an explanatory model for the role of marital conflict.


Despite calls for process-oriented models for child maladjustment due to heightened marital conflict in the context of parental depressive symptoms, few longitudinal tests of the mechanisms underlying these relations have been conducted. Addressing this gap, the present study examined multiple factors longitudinally that link parental depressive symptoms to adolescent adjustment problems, building on a conceptual model informed by emotional security theory (EST). Participants were from 320 families (158 boys, 162 girls), including mothers and fathers, who took part when their children were in kindergarten (T1), second (T2), seventh (T3), eighth (T4) and ninth (T5) grades. Parental depressive symptoms (T1) were related to changes in adolescents’ externalizing and internalizing symptoms (T5), as mediated by parents’ negative emotional expressiveness (T2), marital conflict (T3), and emotional insecurity (T4). Evidence was thus advanced for emotional insecurity as an explanatory process in the context of parental depressive symptoms.