Family Conflict, Emotional Security, and Child Development: Translating Research Findings into a Prevention Program for Community Families

  • E. Mark CummingsEmail author
  • Julie N. Schatz


The social problem posed by family conflict to the physical and psychological health and well-being of children, parents, and underlying family relationships is a cause for concern. Inter-parental and parent–child conflict are linked with children’s behavioral, emotional, social, academic, and health problems, with children’s risk particularly elevated in distressed marriages. Supported by the promise of brief psycho-educational programs (e.g., Halford et al. in Journal of Family Psychology 22:497–505, 2008; Sanders in Journal of Family Psychology 22:506–517, 2008), the present paper presents the development and evaluation of a prevention program for community families with children, concerned with family-wide conflict and relationships, and building on Emotional Security Theory (Davies and Cummings in Psychological Bulletin 116:387–411, 1994). This program uniquely focuses on translating research and theory in this area into brief, engaging programs for community families to improve conflict and emotional security for the sake of the children. Evaluation is based on multi-domain and multi-method assessments of family-wide and child outcomes in the context of a randomized control design. A series of studies are briefly described in the programmatic development of a prevention program for conflict and emotional security for community families, culminating in a program for family-wide conflict and emotional security for families with adolescents. With regard to this ongoing program, evidence is presented at the post-test for improvements in family-wide functioning, consideration of the relative benefits for different groups within the community, and preliminary support for the theoretical bases for program outcomes.


Prevention Psychoeducation Community Marital conflict Adjustment 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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