This study tested parental confirmation and divorce as moderators of the direct and indirect effects of witnessing interparental conflict (i.e., demand/withdraw patterns and aggression) on young adults’ mental health through feelings of being caught between parents. Participants included 493 young adults from first-marriage and post-divorce families. Conditional process analyses revealed that both parental confirmation and divorce status moderated the positive association between demand/withdraw patterns and feeling caught. Each parent’s aggression toward their (ex)spouse reduced the inverse association between confirmation and children feeling caught. Father confirmation moderated the indirect effect of witnessing parents’ demand/withdraw patterns on young adults’ mental health via their feelings of being caught, and this moderation was conditioned by divorce status. Consequently, parents may find that confirmation provides a sense of relational reassurance that softens the more immediate distress that their children experience when witnessing their disputes and feeling caught.
- feeling caught
- mental health