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Most studies investigating the role of parenting behavior in the intergenerational transmission of anxiety from parents to children have focused on mothers. However, recent research suggests that mothers and fathers may parent differently and may differentially affect the development of child anxiety. Theoretical models propose that anxious parents engage in more anxiety-provoking and less anxiety-reducing parenting behavior than non-anxious parents. However, findings are inconsistent, possibly because most studies have not differentiated between anxiety disorders. Therefore, it remains unclear which specific anxiety disorders are linked to parenting behavior. This study examined (1) whether symptoms of specific parental anxiety disorders are linked to overinvolvement and challenging parenting behavior towards infants; and (2) the differential relationship of maternal/paternal overinvolvement and challenging parenting behavior with infant anxiety. Parents of 81 infants (10–15 months) completed the Overinvolvement and Challenging parenting behavior (CPB) scales of the Comprehensive Parenting Behavior Questionnaire, the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders-Adult version, and the Fear scale of the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised. Linear regressions showed that mothers’ generalized anxiety disorder symptoms were associated with less CPB and more overinvolvement, whereas fathers’ social anxiety disorder symptoms were associated with less CPB and more overinvolvement. Moreover, paternal, but not maternal, CPB was associated with less infant anxiety, and overinvolvement with more infant anxiety. Findings suggest that (1) different dimensions of paternal/maternal anxiety are linked to their parenting behavior; (2) maternal/paternal parenting behaviors are differentially associated with infant anxiety.
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- Parental Anxiety, Parenting Behavior, and Infant Anxiety: Differential Associations for Fathers and Mothers
Eline L. Möller
Susan M. Bögels
- Springer US