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18-07-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2017

Parental Distress Tolerance in Three Periods of Child Development: The Moderating Role of Child Temperament

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2017
Alexandra E. Morford, Jeffrey T. Cookston, Melissa J. Hagan


Emotion regulation (ER) is essential to everyday, normative functioning. One aspect of ER is distress tolerance—the ability to persist in goal-directed activities when experiencing aversive states. Despite an assumption that ER improves with age, very little is known about ER across parenthood. Emotion regulation may be taxed by parenthood with implications for negativity in the family environment. The purpose of the current study was to describe levels of distress tolerance across periods of parenthood and to evaluate child temperament as a moderator of the relationship between child’s age and parents’ distress tolerance. A total of 602 parents (66.3% female, Mage= 32.31 years, SD = 7.07) whose eldest child belonged to one of three developmental periods (i.e., infancy, n = 187; early childhood, n = 214; late childhood, n = 201) completed an online survey. While we found no evidence for a main effect of child’s age on parent distress tolerance, children’s negative affectivity moderated the association between period of parenthood and parent distress tolerance. Specifically, children who were higher in negative affectivity had parents who reported less distress tolerance between the developmental periods. The implications of the current study are discussed in the context of current and future research on emotional regulation among parents.

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