Parental Beliefs and the Socialization of Child Emotion: The Role of Child Risk and Parent Gender

Open Access
Baker, Jason K.
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 16, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Pamela Marie Cole, Committee Chair
  • Keith Crnic, Committee Chair
  • Karen Gasper, Committee Member
  • Craig Edelbrock, Committee Member
  • emotion socialization
  • parental beliefs
  • developmental delays
  • risk
  • fathers
This study examined links between parental beliefs regarding emotion (attitudes, priorities, and perceptions), and parental socialization of emotion behaviors. Child developmental risk and parent gender were examined as important to these relations. Participants included 165 families of 8-year-old children with (n = 67) and without (n = 98) early developmental delays. Beliefs were measured through questionnaire and interview measures, and parenting behaviors were evaluated through parents’ reports of their reactions to child emotion, parent ratings of family expressiveness, and observations of parents’ emotion coaching and emotion focus during parent-child laboratory discussion. Fathers were found to be less emotion supportive than mothers as per self-report, but not in terms of observed behavior. Based on developmental status-group assignment at either age 3 or 5 years, parental emotion-coaching attitudes were positively related to several supportive parenting behaviors for parents of typically developing children, and for fathers of children with delays. Mothers of children with delays did not show any significant belief-behavior links when the child age-3 status assignment was considered, but links between priorities and parenting emerged with consideration of the age-5 years assignment. Priorities did not exhibit many simple relations to parenting, but attitudes moderated some priority-behavior links. Support was generated for the existence of diagnostic overshadowing within families of children with delays, but no differences were found in the behavior of these parents as compared to families of typically developing children. Proposed models of belief-behavior links resulted in good overall fit, after negative-expressiveness was omitted. Implications for the study of parental emotion socialization and for parent training are discussed.