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17-09-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2019

Prospective Associations between Maternal Self-Sacrifice/Overprotection and Child Adjustment: Mediation by Insensitive Parenting

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2019
Tamar Y. Khafi, Jessica L. Borelli, Tuppett M. Yates


Prior research on Expressed Emotion (EE) in parents’ Five Minute Speech Samples (FMSS) suggests that parental attitudes that are overprotective or blur boundaries between the parent and child (i.e., the criteria for self-sacrifice/overprotection; SSOP) are related to increases in children’s behavior problems. Some theorists contend that parents who demonstrate high levels of SSOP treat their children more insensitively, but others argue that SSOP does not result in insensitive parenting during the early childhood years. To date, there is no evidence that can be brought to bear upon this tension within the field regarding the developmental implications of SSOP in childhood. This longitudinal investigation of 223 child-mother dyads (47.9% female; Mage_W1 = 49.08 months; 56.5% Hispanic/Latina) evaluated whether maternal insensitivity at age 6 mediated the link between mothers’ SSOP with respect to their 4-year-old children and children’s behavior problems (i.e., internalizing, attention/hyperactivity) at age 8. A path analysis revealed significant indirect pathways from mothers’ SSOP during the preschool period to children’s increased internalizing and attention/hyperactivity problems at age 8 via elevated maternal insensitivity at age 6. These associations did not differ significantly across groups as a function of child gender, maternal race/ethnicity, single-mother status, or family poverty. FMSS evaluations of SSOP may offer a culturally valid and clinically valuable screening tool to detect parental attitudes that confer elevated risks for insensitive parenting practices and later child adjustment difficulties.

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