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03-01-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2019

Maternal Emotional and Physiological Reactivity: Implications for Parenting and the Parenting–Adolescent Relationship

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2019
Auteurs:
Claire E. Niehaus, Tara M. Chaplin, Caitlin C. Turpyn, Stefanie F. Gonçalves
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Abstract

Objectives

Parent physiology and emotion may play an important role in parenting and parent-child relationship quality, yet little research has examined these associations in parents of adolescents. This study employed a naturalistic laboratory-based approach to observe maternal reactivity (mothers' cardiovascular and negative emotional responses) during a parent-adolescent interaction task (PAIT) and associations with parenting behavior and parent-adolescent relationship quality. We also examined possible indirect effect of maternal reactivity on parent-adolescent relationship quality through parenting variables.

Methods

Mothers (n = 196) of 12-14 year olds completed the PAIT, a 10-minute laboratory task in which mothers and adolescents discussed a family conflict topic. Mother-rated negative emotional experience, mother heart rate (HR), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) responses to PAIT were collected. Additionally, observed maladaptive and positive parenting during PAIT and reported parent adolescent relationship quality were collected.

Results

We found that mothers' heightened negative emotional experience in PAIT was associated with heightened observed and reported maladaptive parenting and lower parent-adolescent relationship quality (p<.001). Additionally, blunted HR reactivity was related to higher positive parenting in PAIT(p<.05). Lastly, we found an indirect effect of HR on parent adolescent relationship through positive parenting and an indirect effect of maternal negative emotional experience on parent-adolescent relationship quality through maladaptive and positive parenting. In sum, high emotional reactivity and blunted HR predicted poorer parenting, and directly and indirectly affected parent-adolescent relationship quality.

Conclusions

Parent reactivity may be important to consider in interventions.

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