Harsh parenting practices mediate the association between parent affective profiles and child adjustment outcomes: Differential associations for mothers and fathers

Massimiliano Orri, Lisa-Christine Girard, Jean-Baptiste Pingault, Alexandra Rouquette, Catherine Herba, Bruno Falissard, Sylvana M. Côté, Sylvie Berthoz
International Journal of Behavioral Development. 2018-04-08; 43(1): 53-60
DOI: 10.1177/0165025418769376

Children’s early emotional environment strongly influences their later behavioural development. Yet, besides maternal depression, limited knowledge exists about the effect of other emotions and the role of fathers. Using 290 triads (mother/father/child), we investigated how positive (SEEKING, CARING, PLAYFULNESS) and negative (FEAR, ANGER, SADNESS) dimensions of mothers’ and fathers’ affectivity relate to their offspring’s externalizing and internalizing behaviours directly as well as indirectly via parenting practices. Parental variables were measured when children were 4 years old and children’s behaviours were measured at 8 years of age. Latent Profile Analysis identified three parental affective profiles: low negative emotions, balanced, and high emotional. Structural equation models showed that, for boys, mothers’ low negative emotions and high emotional profiles predicted later internalizing behaviours (direct effect; β = −0.21 and β = 0.23), while fathers’ low negative emotions profile predicted externalizing behaviours indirectly (β = −0.10). For girls, mothers’ profiles ( low negative emotions and high emotional) predicted both internalizing (β = −0.04 and β = 0.07) and externalizing (β = −0.05 and β = 0.09) behaviours indirectly, but no effects of fathers’ profiles were found. Mothers’ and fathers’ affective profiles contributed to the behavioural development of their offspring in different ways, according to the type of behaviour (internalizing or externalizing) and the child’s sex. These findings may help in tailoring existing parenting interventions on affective profiles, thus enhancing their efficacy.

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus