Relations among maternal psychopathology, emotion socialization and child emotion regulation and adjustment in high risk families
Maliken, Ashley Catherine
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A significant body of research suggests that the way parents socialize children around emotion plays an integral role in children's psychosocial adjustment and the development of effective emotion regulation abilities. Evidence suggests that parent's own attitudes and philosophy about emotion, which has been termed their meta-emotion philosophy (MEP), guides how parents respond to their children's emotions. Parents who are accepting and coaching of emotions have children who show effective emotion regulation abilities and few behavior problems. However, most of the literature on the relation between child adjustment and emotion socialization parenting behavior comes from data collected in normative populations. Little is understood about how risk factors such as parental psychopathology may impact parents' emotion socialization abilities. Parental psychopathology has been found to have a significant negative impact on child adjustment, but to date very little research has examined whether parental psychopathology disrupts emotion socialization parenting behaviors, and the related impact on child adjustment and emotion regulation. This study examined the mediating role of parental emotion socialization in the relation between parental psychopathology and child emotion regulation and adjustment. Using data from a larger project examining the impact of a parenting intervention on families who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV), fifty mother-child dyads were assessed at two time points. At Time 1, parental psychopathology was assessed using questionnaire data, and parent emotion coaching was measured using a semi-structured interview with the mother and observational data from a parent-child interaction task. At Time 2, child adjustment and emotion regulation was assessed using child- and parent-report measures. Results from the final sample of 42 families were supportive of the literature, and demonstrated that parental psychopathology does influence child emotion regulation and adjustment. However, the relation between parental psychopathology and emotion socialization practices was not supported. Similarly, the hypothesis that emotion socialization practices would mediate the relation between parental psychopathology and child adjustment was not supported. These surprising results are discussed with regards to limitations of this sample and future directions.
- Psychology