Maternal Emotion Socialization and Child Outcomes among African Americans and European Americans
Mothers’ emotion socialization practices are very important for children’s later outcomes; however, we know very little about how these practices may lead to different outcomes for European American (EA) and African American (AA) children. In the current study, maternal emotion socialization practices were investigated in relation to child emotion-related outcomes in 122 pairs of mothers and preschool-age children, and differences in associations were examined for EA and AA families. Mothers were assessed for their expressions of positive emotion with their child and their responses to their child’s negative emotions, including support of sadness/fear and magnification of anger, when children were 3. Children were assessed for their expression of positive emotion with their mother and their internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors when they were 4. When ethnicity was included as a moderator, results revealed that when AA mothers expressed more positive emotion, their children were also more positive 1 year later. Additionally, as AA mothers provided greater support for their children’s sadness/fear, these children tended to have fewer later internalizing problems. Finally, when AA mothers responded with more magnification of their children’s anger, these children tended to have greater internalizing and externalizing problems 1 year later. These associations were not found for EA families. Results highlighted differential effects based on the type of support provided by mothers and the role that mothers played in encouraging or suppressing their child’s expressions. The overall findings highlight the need to consider maternal emotion socialization from a culturally-informed perspective.
KeywordsEmotion socialization Ethnicity Response to emotion Emotion expression Problem behaviors
E.G.H.: designed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. Q.W.: assisted with data collection and writing the manuscript. S.K.: assisted with data collection and editing the manuscript. M.G.: assisted with data collection and editing the manuscript. X.F.: assisted with study design, analyzing the data, and editing the manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Ohio State University Institutional Review Board. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Mothers provided assent for child participation.
- Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA preschool forms & profiles: Child behavior checklist for ages 1½ –5. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth & Families.Google Scholar
- Boykin, A. W. (1986). The triple quandary and the schooling of Afro-American children. In U. Neisser (Ed.), The school achievement of minority children: New perspectives (pp. 57–92). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Cole, P. M., & Tan, P. Z. (2007). Emotion socialization from a cultural perspective. In J. E. Grusec & P. D. Hastings (Eds.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research (pp. 516–542). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Dodge, K. A., McLoyd, V. C., & Lansford, J. E. (2005). The cultural context of physically disciplining children. In V. C. McLoyd, N. E. Hill & K. A. Dodge (Eds.), African American family life (pp. 245–263). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Eisenberg, N., Gershoff, E. T., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Cumberland, A. J., Losoya, S. H., & Murphy, B. C. (2001). Mother’s emotional expressivity and children’s behavior problems and social competence: Mediation through children’s regulation. Developmental Psychology, 37, 475.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Harrison-Hale, A. O., McLoyd, V. C., & Smedley, B. (2004). Racial and ethnic status: Risk and protective processes among African American families. In K. I. Maton, C. J. Schellenbach, B. J. Leadbeater & A. L. Solarz (Eds.), Investing in children, youth, families, and communities: Strength-based research and policy. (pp. 269–283). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Jabson, J. M., Dishion, T. J., Gardner, F., & Burton, J. (2002). Relationship process code-V2.0 training manual: A system for coding relationship interactions. Child and Family Center: University of Oregon.Google Scholar
- Lindsey, E. W., Colwell, M. J., Frabutt, J. M., Chambers, J. C., & MacKinnon-Lewis, C. (2008). Mother-child dyadic synchrony in European American and African American families during early adolescence: Relations with self-esteem and prosocial behavior. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 54, 289–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Magai, C. M. (1996). Emotions as a Child Self-rating Scale. Unpublished measure, New York: Long Island University.Google Scholar
- Magai, C. M. (1997). Emotions as a Child Self-Rating Scale II. Unpublished measure, New York: Long Island University.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2014). Mplus user’s guide. 7th edn. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- Nelson, J. A., Leerkes, E. M., Perry, N. B., O’Brien, M., Calkins, S. D., & Marcovitch, S. (2013). European‐American and African‐American mothers’ emotion socialization practices relate differently to their children’s academic and social‐emotional competence. Social Development, 22, 485–498.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Noldus Information Technology. (2013). The Observer XT (Version 11.5) [Computer Software]. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Noldus Information Technology.Google Scholar
- Parker, A. E., Halberstadt, A. G., Dunsmore, J. C., Townley, G., Bryant, Jr, A., Thompson, J. A., & Beale, K. S. (2012). Emotions are a window into one’s heart: A qualitative analysis of parental beliefs about children’s emotions across three ethnic groups. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 77, 1–136.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Phinney, J. S., & Landin, J. (1998). Research paradigms for studying ethnic minority families within and across groups. In V. C. McLoyd & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Studying minority adolescents: Conceptual, methodological, and theoretical issues (pp. 89–109). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Silk, J.S. (2004). Emotion regulation: Strategies and affect coding manual. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh.Google Scholar