An incredible amount of research has examined the impact of divorce and parents’ conﬂict on children. While conﬂict is a natural and often productive part of families, negative forms of interparental conﬂict adversely aﬀects children’s relational and mental health (Fabricius & Luecken, 2007). Unfortunately, parents are often unaware of how they communicate during conﬂict and the eﬀect it has on their children, particularly if their children become enmeshed in it. Children who feel caught between their parents’ conﬂict tend to avoid talking about their feelings in an eﬀort to minimize the conﬂict. Partially due to this avoidance, parents continue to communicate in ways that place their children in the middle of their disputes (see Aﬁﬁ, 2003). But what if parents and adolescents were asked to have a conversation about
the parents’ conﬂict and then reﬂect on how they communicated together about it? What would the adolescents think about their parents’ communication? What would the parents think of their adolescents’ communication? The goal of the current chapter is to shed light on these questions by examining the role of parents’ and adolescents’ perceptions via video recall procedures during such a discussion task. Researchers commonly use video recall procedures with conﬂict and have shown that people are not very good at deciphering what the other person is thinking during a conﬂict. This research also shows that people tend to make attributional errors about the other person’s conﬂict behaviors and thoughts. Much of the video recall research has been conducted with couples or with parents and adolescents and shows that romantic partners often tend to blame their partner for negative conﬂict patterns, particularly when the couple is dissatisﬁed or in a turbulent relationship (e.g., Sillars et al, 2000). The research with parents and adolescents demonstrates, among other ﬁndings, that parents do not readily understand what their adolescents are thinking about their family
conﬂict patterns (e.g., Sillars et al, 2005). But, no research, to our knowledge, has used video recall with parents and adolescents who are asked to reﬂect on parents’ conﬂict. Introducing the adolescents’ perspective could provide another important perspective on the parents’ conﬂict that could be informative for parents and children alike. Before addressing the role of perception in interparental conﬂict, however, the research on parents’ conﬂict in divorced and non-divorced families is discussed brieﬂy.