Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1460–1472 | Cite as

Interparental Interactions and Adolescent Mood: A Daily Diary Approach

  • Christine E. Merrilees
  • Meghan P. McCormick
  • JoAnn Hsueh
  • Patricia Chou
  • E. Mark Cummings
Original Paper


The literature assessing relations between interparental functioning and youth adjustment is extensive. Most of this literature used a between subjects approach and examines youth responses to conflict reported by parents. The current study used a daily diary approach to complement the existing literature by assessing relations between aspects of marital interactions and adolescent reported daily mood using a within-family approach. We hypothesized that parents’ emotionality during interactions, the severity of their marital conflicts, and the degree to which their conflicts were resolved would be associated with their adolescents’ daily moods. To test these hypotheses a diverse sample (N = 86; 27% Black, 33% White, 26% Hispanic, and 14% another race or families members differed in race) of mothers, fathers, and adolescents drawn from the Supporting Healthy Marriage project completed 15 days of daily diaries. Multilevel modeling results suggested differential associations between mother and father reports of their own emotions during interactions, conflict severity, and conflict resolution and adolescents’ daily moods. Overall, there were more significant results indicating fathers’ compared to mothers’ associations with adolescents’ daily moods, providing support for the need to continue efforts to engage fathers in family strengthening programs.


Emotional security Daily diary Marital interactions Adolescence Low-income families 



Collection of the data described in this report was supported by the William T. Grant Foundation and Contract Number HHS-233-03-0034 from the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded to MDRC. Preparation of this report was supported by the William T. Grant Foundation. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the William T. Grant Foundation.

Author Contributions

C.E.M. contributed to study design and conceptualization, data analysis, and manuscript writing. M.P.M. analyzed the data, and contributed to writing the manuscript; J.H. contributed to study design and conceptualization, executed data collection, and contributed to writing feedback. P.C. contributed to data management and analysis. E.M.C. contributed to study design and analysis and manuscript feedback.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of MDRC, the University of Notre Dame, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentSUNY GeneseoGeneseoUSA
  2. 2.Family and Children Policy AreaMDRCNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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