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17-10-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 2/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 2/2019

Conceptualization and Measurement of Parent Emotion Socialization among Mothers in Substance Abuse Treatment

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 2/2019
Julia M. Shadur, Andrea M. Hussong
Belangrijke opmerkingen
Current address: School of Integrative Studies (Childhood Studies) and Department of Human Development and Family Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA


The current study examined emotion socialization behaviors within a clinical sample of substance-dependent mothers. Interviews were conducted with N = 74 mothers in substance abuse treatment (outpatient and residential with or without opiate agonist medication). Each mother had a biological child between the ages of 3–8 years. We examined the factor structure of a widely-used emotion socialization measure (Coping with Children’s Negative Emotions Scale) and included a novel subscale to capture the level of consistency of maternal reactions to children’s emotions as a unique and salient component of emotion socialization. We found that, overall, mothers reported engaging in “emotion-coaching” styles of socialization, involving more consistent and supportive than non-supportive reactions to children’s negative emotions, consistent with general population studies. However, compared to community sample mothers, substance-dependent mothers reported significantly greater levels of both supportive and non-supportive reactions to children’s negative emotions, perhaps reflecting over-involved emotion socialization behaviors. The context of maternal drug use negatively impacted how well mothers balanced these types of reactions, such that mothers engaged in significantly higher levels of non-supportive and inconsistent reactions during periods of problematic drug use compared to periods of sobriety. These findings underscore the need to consider contextual risk as a predictor of emotion socialization and suggest that emotion socialization behaviors vary both within and across such contexts. Implications of this work highlight the importance of examining consistency as a characteristic of emotion socialization in its own right, particularly within families impacted by parental drug use and related contexts of high risk.

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