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The role of interparental conflict in adolescent siblings’ distress: A multi-informant study of military families

APA Citation:

Quichocho, D., & Lucier-Greer, M. (2021). The role of interparental conflict in adolescent siblings’ distress: A multi-informant study of military families. Children & Youth Services Review, 120, 105708. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105708

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined how parental conflict was associated with adolescent distress – specifically, anxiety and adjustment – among siblings in military families (N = 117 families). Informed by the ABC-X Model of Family Stress and Coping, the researchers hypothesized adolescents’ perceptions of their parents’ conflict was a salient link between parents’ reports of conflict and adolescent distress. Participating families comprised of one active-duty parent, one civilian parent, and two adolescent siblings (11-17 years old). Parents and their adolescent children both reported on unhealthy parental conflict; adolescents also reported on their own anxiety and adjustment (i.e., well-being and self-efficacy). The civilian parents’ reports of parental conflict were associated with the siblings’ perceptions of parental conflict. In other words, the civilian parents’ reports of parental conflict (not the military parents’) tended to align with perceived parental conflict reported by the adolescents. In turn, adolescents who perceived more parental conflict reported more distress, both more anxiety and poorer adjustment.



Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Military families


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Secondary Analysis


Quichocho, Davina, Lucier-Greer, Mallory


Military families navigate a combination of normative and military-specific stressors, and thereby may be at greater risk for experiencing interparental conflict (IPC). Using the ABCX Model, IPC was conceptualized as a family stressor associated with adolescent siblings’ distress outcomes (i.e., greater anxiety, lower positive adjustment), and siblings’ appraisals of IPC were conceptualized as the linking mechanism in this relationship. Within 117 military families, a service member parent, a civilian parent, and two siblings each individually reported on IPC in their family and the siblings reported on their own distress. Civilian parents’ reports of IPC were positively associated with their children’s IPC appraisals, but service member parents’ reports were not associated with their children’s IPC appraisals. Siblings who appraised greater IPC showed higher anxiety and lower positive adjustment outcomes. The indirect link between parent IPC reports and sibling outcomes, via sibling IPC appraisals, was significant for civilian but not service member parents across all outcomes. These findings highlight the importance of accounting for the health of the larger family system when working with adolescents and assessing the potential disconnect between parental accounts of IPC and adolescent appraisals of conflict when working with these families.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, DQ
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, MLG


adjustment, anxiety, interparental conflict, mental health, military family, sibling

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


This research was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Award 2009–48680-06069 (PI: Jay A. Mancini).

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2021

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