Salud Mental

Marital functioning in parents who take their children for a psychiatric evaluation


Mauricio Leija Esparza
Israel Itzaman Jiménez Navarro
Lidia Karina Macias Esparza


Background. In recent decades, research on families with psychopathology has demonstrated the relationship between childhood mental disorders and problems in the marital subsystem.

Objective. To describe the degree of marital adjustment in a group of parents who sought psychiatric care for their children and compare it with the severity of the psychopathology present in children.

Method. The study included a group of 48 children and 76 parents. The children’s psychopathology was assessed using the MINI-Kid, while their parents’ degree of dyadic adjustment was evaluated through the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (EAD-13).

Results. A total of 72.9% of the children had at least one parent who reported a low dyadic adjustment. The EAD-13 scores of each member of the couple showed low correlation (p<0.05). Moreover, there was a negative correlation (p<0.05) between the EAD-13 scores answered by the mothers (the lower the score, the lower the adjustment) and the number of diagnoses present in the children. However, a comparison of the means of the number of diagnoses present in the children, according to the degree of adjustment perceived by the fathers, showed that those with a high adjustment had children with a higher number of psychiatric diagnoses (p<0.05).

Discussion and conclusion. The results suggest that denied or concealed conflict, at least by the father, and marital difficulties perceived by the mother, led to children’s increased susceptibility to psychopathology.

Ignoring marital conflict in the assessment of children and adolescents has huge implications in the evolution, prognosis and response to treatment of pediatric patients.

Dyadic adjustment, couple relationship, marital satisfaction, child psychopathology