Rhoades, K., A., Leve, L. D., Harold, G. T., Neiderhiser, J. M., Shaw, D. S., & Reiss, D. (2011). Longitudinal pathways from marital hostility to child anger during toddlerhood: Genetic susceptibility and indirect effects via harsh parenting. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 282–291. PMC: 3084154
Abstract: We examined direct and indirect pathways from marital hostility to toddler anger/frustration via harsh parenting and parental depressive symptoms, with an additional focus on the moderating role of genetic influences as inferred from birth parent anger/frustration. Participants were 361 linked triads of birth mothers, adoptive parents, and adopted children who were 9 (T1) and 18 (T2) months old across the study period. Results indicated an indirect effect from T1 marital hostility to T2 child anger/frustration via T2 parental harsh discipline. Results also indicated that the association between marital hostility and child anger was moderated by birth mother anger/frustration. For children whose birth mothers reported high levels of anger/frustration, adoptive parents’ marital hostility at T1 predicted child anger/frustration at T2. This relation did not hold for children whose birth mothers reported low levels of anger/frustration. The results suggest that children whose birth mothers report elevated frustration might inherit an emotional lability that makes them more sensitive to the effects of marital hostility.