Faculty Publications


Coparental and family group-level dynamics during infancy: Early family precursors of child and family functioning during preschool.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

James P. McHale

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 1998

Date Available

March 2012


This study examines longitudinal correlates of coparental and family group-level dynamics during infancy. Thirty-seven couples observed at play with their 8–11-month-old infants (15 boys, 22 girls) rated their child’s internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and their own coparenting behavior 3 years later. Teachers also rated child behavior at the 3-year follow-up. Several significant relationships emerged between observed family process (high hostility–competitiveness, low family harmony, and high parenting discrepancies in the triad) at Time 1, and subsequent reports of child and coparenting behavior at Time 2. Larger parenting discrepancies at Time 1 predicted greater child anxiety as rated by teachers; greater hostility–competitiveness and lower harmony forecast higher child aggression. Time 1 family process continued to predict Time 2 aggression even after controlling for individual and marital functioning. Several links were also found between distressed family process and later parental reports of negative coparenting behavior. These parental reports of coparenting also explained unique variance in concurrent child behavior ratings. The significance of coparenting as a distinct family construct is discussed.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Development and Psychopathology, 10, 39-59. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




Cambridge University Press