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Research has demonstrated impaired parent-child relationships in families with affective disorders. The present study examines the association of children's interactional style during a direct conflict-solving task to both the mother's interactional style and the child's diagnostic status. The sample includes 63 children, ages 8 to 16, of mothers with affective disorders, chronic medical illness, and normal controls. Children's dominant coping style profile (CS) (autonomous, neutral, or critical) was related to their mother's affective style (AS) (benign or negative). Affective disorder in the child at 6-month followup was associated with a critical CS profile at intake, while the child's nonaffective symptomatology was unrelated to CS. Findings indicate that children's affective disturbance is linked to interpersonal deficits in affectively charged situations. Results suggest that the child's CS is more strongly predicted by maternal AS than by either the child's or the mother's diagnostic status.


Originally published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 21(1), 51-63.

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