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Expressed emotion (EE) is an index of the amount of emotion typically displayed by a family member or caretaker characterized by high emotional involvement, hostility or criticism. The aims of the current study were (a) to examine EE, stress and helplessness in childcare, and family functioning in mothers and fathers of elementary and junior high school children without clinical mental health problems living in a “nonclinical” family context; (b) to assess relationships between child age, gender, socio-economic status and EE; and (c) to investigate whether there are some factors—in a “normal family” context—that play a crucial role in the quality of EE. EE, assessed using the Five Minute Speech Sample (FMSS), and questionnaires assessing parenting alliance, family functioning, parenting stress index, and the parent’s state of helplessness in caring for the child were completed by a community-based Italian sample of mothers and fathers of children (N = 381) aged 6–14 years (M = 9.8, SD = 2.25). As expected, low rates in all FMSS variables were found for mothers and fathers, without significant differences between them. Mothers and fathers who showed high EE scores reported higher family non-adaptive functioning. Mothers also reported higher parental stress and higher Helplessness in caring for the child. Mothers’ stress and fathers’ reports of higher family non-adaptive functioning were the most consistent predictors of EE. Further research is needed to highlight associations between EE and family functioning.
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- Expressed Emotion, Parental Stress, and Family Dysfunction Among Parents of Nonclinical Italian Children
Daniela Di Riso
- Springer US