Marital dissatisfaction, psychological control and parent-child conflict in chinese families - An actor–partner interdependence model analysis

Janet Tsin Yee Leung, Daniel Tan Lei Shek, Lydia Man Hang Kwok, Eunice Tsz Yan Yung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Although family systems theories highlight the associations of marital quality with parenting practice and parent-child relationship, studies examining individual and inter-spousal linkages of marital dissatisfaction with psychological control and parent-child conflict among Chinese families are almost non-existent. Adopting the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM), dyadic interdependence in the associations of marital dissatisfaction with psychological control and parent-child conflict were examined in a sample of 386 Chinese families in Hong Kong. Fathers, mothers and adolescent children were involved in the data collection (Mfather’s age = 48.7; Mmother’s age = 44.7; Mchildren’s age = 14.6; 53.1% of adolescents were boys). Results showed that while father-perceived marital dissatisfaction was positively associated with paternal and maternal psychological control, mother-perceived marital dissatisfaction was not. Moreover, marital dissatisfaction perceived by each parent was linked to greater conflict between their children and the other parent, but it was not associated with his/her own conflict with children. The findings showed that Chinese fathers who perceived greater marital dissatisfaction might spill over their stress and hostility from marital dissatisfaction to practicing paternal psychological control and trigger their spouse to exercise maternal psychological control for their children. Besides, poorer marital satisfaction might be linked to conflictual relationship between their children and their spouse, hence increasing the risk of family triangulation. The present study suggests the importance of adopting a family-based intervention approach in helping Chinese parents facing marital dissatisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2022


  • actor-partner interdependence model
  • chinese families
  • marital dissatisfaction
  • parent-child conflict
  • psychological control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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