Researchers have shown that parents often disagree in their ratings of their children's behavior, and that these discrepancies are typically related to child and family characteristics (e.g., child's age, parent psychopathology). Few studies, however, have examined discrepancies in how mothers and fathers rate child behavior during a stressful family context such as a parent's wartime deployment. The present study of 174 military families (children aged 6 to 11 years; 54.0% female) examined whether family factors (parental sense of control, marital satisfaction) and contextual risk factors related to a parent's wartime deployment (number and length of deployments, battle experiences, and posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms) were associated with discrepancies in how mothers and fathers rated internalizing and externalizing behaviors in their children. Using a latent congruency model, our results showed that when parents self-reported higher levels of PTSD symptoms, both mothers, β = −.33, p =.021, and fathers, β =.41, p =.026, tended to also report higher levels of internalizing symptoms in their child, relative to what their spouse reported. In comparison to mothers, fathers also tended to report higher levels of child externalizing symptoms, β =.44, p =.019. Our findings may help clinicians understand how parent mental health within a stressful family context relates and/or informs a parent's ratings on assessments of his or her child's internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA030114).
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