Book Explores Impact of Marital Conflict on Child Development

Author: Lisa Walenceus

Mark Cummings

All families have disagreements—but when does parental conflict become harmful to children? A new book co-authored by a University of Notre Dame psychologist offers insight into how growing up in a discordant family affects child development.

Marital Conflict and Children: An Emotional Security Perspective by Mark Cummings, Notre Dame Professor of Psychology, and Patrick Davies (University of Rochester) offers a new conceptual framework on children’s emotional security and behavioral development within the context of marital conflict.

Employing both laboratory and home-based studies, the book explores such topics as the types of conflict that are most distressing to children; when parental conflict can be constructive; and the links between marital relations, parenting practices and emotional attachment.

As director of Notre Dame’s “The Happy Couples and Happy Kids Project,” Cummings specializes in the psychology of children and families, and has conducted extensive research on how marital conflict negatively influences a child’s development. He also was a founder of Notre Dame’s Center for Children and Families, a community resource where parents can learn strategies for constructive conflict resolution.

A nationally recognized expert on children’s emotional development, Cummings also co-authored Children and Marital Conflict: The Impact of Family Dispute and Resolution with Davies. Cummings frequently serves as an expert resource for national publications and broadcast media.

Contact: Mark Cummings, 574-631-4947 or

Originally published at on January 11, 2010.