Growth trajectories of parental emotion socialization and child adjustment following a military parenting intervention: A randomized controlled trial

Na Zhang, Sun Kyung Lee, Jingchen Zhang, Timothy Piehler, Abigail Gewirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Children of combat deployed parents are at risk of behavioral problems. Parental emotion socialization (PES) has been theorized to influence children's behaviors; many studies lend support to this theory. However, longitudinal studies examining PES with experimental designs are sparse. In this study, we estimated PES growth trajectories following a parenting intervention and evaluated whether intervention induced improvements in PES predict child outcomes in postdeployed military families. National Guard/Reserve families with at least one deployed parent and a child aged 4-13 years were randomized into an intervention or control group. Data from all 255 2-parent married families, who were primarily Caucasian and middle-class, were analyzed. PES was indicated by self-reported nonsupportive and supportive reactions to children's negative emotions (baseline, 1-year, and 2-year follow-up). Child behaviors were assessed through averaged mother- and father- reports (baseline and 2-year follow-up). Results of latent growth models showed that mothers and fathers assigned to the intervention condition reported greater improvements in nonsupportive PES (steeper negative slopes) over 2 years relative to controls. Both mothers' and fathers' intervention-induced improvements in nonsupportive PES were associated with decreased child internalizing behaviors. Mothers' intervention-induced improvements in nonsupportive PES were associated with decreased child externalizing behaviors. No significant findings were detected for intervention effects on supportive PES growth trajectories. Our findings supported the indirect effects of the intervention on child behaviors through nonsupportive PES over two years. PES is an important, malleable skill that can be targeted in parenting interventions for postdeployed military families. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-663
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

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