Inter-parental relationships and children's mental health

This project will review international research about relationships between parents (inter-parental relationships), and their effect on children's mental health development.

Researchers will look at evidence from experimental, longitudinal and intervention based studies which highlight the role of the inter-parental relationship as a significant influence on children's emotional, behavioural and academic development. They will have a specific focus on the mechanisms that underlie individual differences in children's adaptation to household conditions marked by high levels of inter-parental conflict and discord.

Evidence from intervention studies about the efficacy of couple skills training in reducing negative effects on children's mental health development will be reviewed with the aim of identifying how these programmes may be employed within a UK context.

Project details



Professor Gordon Harold, University of Leicester

Professor Anita Thapar, Cardiff University

Grant Amount and Duration


October 2009-September 2011




Harold, G. T., Elam, K., Lewis, G., Rice, F., Thapar, A. (2012). Interparental conflict, parent psychopathology, hostile parenting, and child antisocial behaviour: Examining the role of maternal vs paternal influences using a novel genetically sensitive research desigh. Development and Psychopathology. 24 (04): 1283-1295 (Full text, requires subscription)

Laurent, H. K., Leve, L. D., Neiderhiser, J. M., Natsuaki, M. N., Shaw, D. S., Fisher, P. A., Marceau, K., Harold, G. T. and Reiss, D. (2012), Effects of Parental Depressive Symptoms on Child Adjustment Moderated by Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Activity: Within- and Between-Family Risk. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01859.x (Full text, requires subscription)

Lewis, G., Rice, F., Harold, G., Collishaw, S., Thapar, A. (2011) Investigating Environmental Links Between Parent Depression and Child Depressive/Anxiety Symptoms Using an Assisted Conception Design. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(5): 451+459