The role of the interparental process in emotion socialization
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The current study investigated the role of the interparental subsystem in emotion socialization. Specifically, links between interparental positive affect congruity (IPAC) and components of child emotional competence including emotion regulation, understanding, and awareness were examined. The sample included 51 families with children between the ages of 7 and 12. Along with the child, mothers and fathers discussed a time when the child felt angry, sad, anxious, and happy. Child emotional competence was assessed using a multi-method, multi-informant approach including parent and child report, behavioral observations, and semi-structured interview. Maternal and paternal displays of positive affect were coded, and sequential analyses examined the extent to which parents were congruent in their displays of positive affect. No correlations emerged between IPAC and child emotion regulation, awareness, and understanding. Moderation analyses examined family stress as a moderator of the relation between IPAC in each of the four emotion discussion contexts and child emotion regulation and awareness. Results indicated that family stress moderated the link between IPAC in the sadness emotion discussion context and child-reported emotion regulation and awareness such that greater levels of IPAC were associated with greater child emotion regulation and awareness but only in the context of low family stress. Findings suggest that positive interparental processes, as measured in the current study, may not be particularly influential in children’s development of emotional competence. Results from the moderation analyses indicate that taking into account interparental processes within the context of other familial variables may provide unique insight into the ways by which children develop emotion competencies.