Parents’ Maltreatment Histories, Dimensions of Emotion Regulation, and Connections to Offspring Self-Regulation: A Sex-Specific Transmission Pathway
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment | Uitgave 4/2021Log in om toegang te krijgen
Parents with childhood maltreatment histories are at risk for emotion regulation (ER) problems, which are associated with reduced self-regulation among their offspring. However, gaps remain in the literature regarding this indirect transmission pathway. First, ER consists of multiple dimensions and it is unclear which dimension is most affected by childhood maltreatment. Second, less is known regarding which parental ER dimension is linked to offspring self-regulation. Thus, the present study aimed to examine the direct and indirect associations between parental maltreatment histories and child self-regulatory capacity via dimensions of parental ER. In this cross-sectional study, 101 youth (75% African American/Black; 53% female; Mage = 10.28; SD = 1.19) and their primary caregivers were recruited from a low-income community in the Southeastern United States. Structural equation modeling was used to model the effect of parents’ self-reported childhood maltreatment on youth physiological self-regulation (measured by heart rate variability reactivity [HRV-R]), via parents’ self-reported ER. Parental maltreatment history was significantly associated with five of the six components of ER. Further, the indirect effect of parents’ childhood maltreatment on child HRV-R was significant when parents reported more difficulty engaging goal-directed behaviors. Moderation analyses by sex showed that daughters had greater dysregulation regardless of parental maltreatment histories, while parents’ ER was found to play a more significant role in the intergenerational transmission of dysregulation to sons. The current study extends the literature on self-regulation development in children of low-income, maltreatment-exposed parents. Our study may inform parent-child interventions for improving self-regulation.