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Trajectories of mother-child and father-child relationships across middle childhood and associations with depressive symptoms

  • Jia Yan (a1), Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan (a1) and Xin Feng (a1)


Using a family systems perspective, we examined the trajectories of father-child and mother-child closeness and conflict across Grades 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6, and their associations with child depressive symptoms across middle childhood among 685 families in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD). Father-child and mother-child relationship conflict increased, whereas relationship closeness decreased from Grades 1 to 6. Girls with more slowly increasing father-child conflict, and more slowly decreasing father-child closeness, were at lower risk for depressive symptoms. Boys with more slowly increasing mother-child conflict were at lower risk for depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the important roles of both father-child and mother-child relationships in children's emotional adjustment during middle childhood.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Jia Yan, Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, 1787 Neil Avenue, 135 Campbell Hall, Columbus, OH 43210; Email:


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