Family Discord and Child Health: An Emotional Security Formulation

  • Patrick T. Davies
  • Melissa L. Sturge-Apple
  • Meredith J. Martin
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI)


Although the impact of family discord on children’s coping and ­adjustment difficulties is well established, continued progress in understanding how and why family processes affect children’s mental and physical health will require efforts to formulate theoretically guided hypotheses with greater novelty and pinpoint accuracy. The goal of this chapter is to illustrate how an evolutionary framework of children’s emotional security in family relationships may increase depth and precision in interpreting the existing findings and serve as a broad heuristic for future research. After elaborating on how children’s sense of security in the interparental relationship is distinct in its nature and function from parent–child attachment security, the chapter addresses how each type of security is proposed to be a product of a distinct set of experiences in the family. In turn, each type of security sets in motion developmental cascades that help to account for why insecurity in family relationships is associated with child problems. We next describe the moderating conditions that may serve as sources of heterogeneity in children’s pathways to health and illness. In concluding, we outline future directions that may increase precision and novelty in advancing models of family process and child health within an evolutionary framework.


Attachment Security Social Defense Allostatic Load Interparental Conflict Stress Response System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick T. Davies
    • 1
  • Melissa L. Sturge-Apple
    • 1
  • Meredith J. Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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