Parents' socialization of children's emotions and children's socioemotional adjustment : the role of adult attachment
MetadataShow full item record
The main goal of this study was to examine how parents’ mental representations of their past attachment relationships influence the way they respond to their own children’s emotions, using hypotheses based in attachment theory. Parents’ responses to their children’s emotions and children’s emotion regulation and social and emotional adjustment over time were also examined. Finally, differences between mothers and fathers were examined. The original sample contained 125 couples. Mothers’ and Fathers’ mental representations of attachment were measured prior to giving birth to their first child. Parents’ responses to their children’s emotions were assessed during parent-child interactions when children were 2-years old, and with parental questionnaires when children were 7-years old. Children’s emotion regulation was coded at 2-years and parents and teachers reported children’s social adjustment using the Child Behavior Checklist at 7-years. Mothers’ adult attachment did not predict their responses to their children’s emotions when their children were 2- or 7-years old. Fathers’ adult attachment did predict their responses to their children’s emotions. Dismissing fathers were more minimizing and punitive toward their children’s emotions than secure fathers when children were 2-years old. Dismissing fathers, compared to secure fathers, reported more distress and punitive reactions to their children’s emotions when their children were 7-years old. In addition, the more sensitive parents were to their children’s emotions, the better their children’s emotion regulation. Less sensitive responses were related to children’s underregulation of emotions. In general, children’s emotion regulation at 2-years did not predict children’s social adjustment at 7-years, although, some child gender differences were found. Few differences were found between mothers and fathers in the way they responded to their children’s emotions.