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Parents are perhaps the most direct and profound influences on children’s development of emotional competence. For example, how and what emotions parents express in the family has implications for children’s ability to understand and regulate their emotions. What is less well understood is what potential environmental or contextual factors impact parents’ emotional expressiveness, particularly in high-risk samples prone to atypical emotional expressiveness (e.g., deficits in the production and recognition of emotional expressions). The present longitudinal study examined the association between life changes and parents’ expression of positive and negative emotions, as well as, how these associations changed over time in a sample of maltreating mothers. Eighty-eight mothers with a substantiated history of physical abuse completed measures of emotional expressiveness and life changes experienced over the past 6 months when their children were in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. Results indicated that life changes decreased over time, while parental emotional expressiveness remained stable. Moreover, life changes were associated across time with the expression of negative emotions, but were unrelated to expressions of positive emotions. Findings have important implications for understanding emotional expressiveness in high-risk samples.
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- Three-year Trajectories of Emotional Expressiveness among Maltreating Mothers: The Role of Life Changes
Helen M. Milojevich
Mary E. Haskett
- Springer US