Moms compensate with their child for marital tension on the second day of an argument; not so with dads, who don’t recover as quickly

Kouros, SMU, marital conflict, psychology

The popular online news site The Huffington Post covered the research of psychology expert Chrystyna Kouros, assistant professor in the SMU Department of Psychology.

Kouros focuses on understanding depressive symptoms and depression in the context of family stress.

One line of her research focuses on the etiology, maintenance and progression of child and adolescent depression, and how symptoms change over time. She has a particular interest in the effects of children’s exposure to everyday marital conflict and parental psychopathology.

The Huffington Post reporter Taryn Hillin highlighted Kouros’ most recent research which found that the repercussion of a marital dispute can be a damaged relationship between parents and their children. Her article “Here’s Why Dads Should Think Twice Before Arguing With Their Wives” published Aug. 13.

Read the full story.


By Taryn Hillin
The Huffington Post

It’s known that when parents argue, it has a negative effect on their kids. Now, new research suggests that it’s the father’s relationship with his children that suffers the most following marital conflict.

The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, analyzed 203 families over the course of 15 days. Couples involved in the study had been married an average of 15 years and had at least one child aged eight to 16.

Families were first interviewed by researchers; the parents were asked about marital satisfaction, marital conflict and depression, and the children reported on their parents’ parenting skills.

The husbands and wives were then asked to keep separate daily diaries for two weeks in which they rated the emotional quality of their relationship with their spouse and their child at the end of each day.

At the end of the study, researchers found that when parents argued, their relationship with their child was negatively affected. However, mothers were able to recover from this fairly quickly and the next day, even showed improvement in their parent-child relationship.

“Moms appeared to compensate for their marital tension,” said Chrystyna D. Kouros, lead author of the study, in a press release. “Poor marital quality actually predicted an improvement in the relationship between the mom and the child. So, the first day’s adverse spillover is short lived for moms.”

Fathers, on the other hand, did not recover so quickly, and their relationship with their child remained strained even into the following day.

Read the full story.

Follow on Twitter.

For more information,

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.