Coping With Remembrances of Parental Rejection in Childhood: Gender Differences and Associations With Intimate Partner Relationships
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Grounded in interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory (IPARTheory), this exploratory study investigated a) major characteristics of affective copers and non-copers, b) the effects of acceptance by one parent insofar as it moderates rejection by the other parent, and c) the mediation effect of intimate partner relationships on the relation between remembered parental rejection and adults’ current psychological adjustment. The theory recognizes that the psychological adjustment of some adults who remember having been rejected by parents in childhood is not as seriously impaired as it is for the majority of individuals. These people are called affective copers in IPARTheory. The sample included 724 affective copers and 1121 non-copers, which are adults who remember having been rejected by their parents in childhood, and whose psychological adjustment is impaired in adulthood. Results of analyses revealed that for male affective copers, both maternal and paternal rejection were unique and significant predictors of adjustment, whereas for female copers, age and an interaction between remembrances of maternal and paternal rejection were significant predictors. For male non-copers, age, remembered parental rejection, and an interaction between maternal and paternal rejection were significant predictors of psychological adjustment. For female non-copers, in contrast, remembrances of both maternal and paternal rejection in childhood were significant predictors. Lastly, perceived partner acceptance-rejection mediated the relationship between remembered parental rejection in childhood and the psychological adjustment of non-copers, but not of affective copers. Results of this study inform the work of practitioners and prevention scientists working with adults who experienced serious rejection from their parents in childhood.
KeywordsAffective coping Resilience Intimate partner relationship Psychological adjustment Interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory (IPARTheory)
P.K.: designed and executed the study, conducted the data analyses, and wrote the paper. R.P.R.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. P.A.B.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. L.C.H.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. S.R.D.: collaborated with the design of the study.
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 institutional and/or national research committees, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Permission to use the primary data for these secondary analyses was granted by the Director of the Rohner Center. Authors of the individual studies gave permission for secondary analysis when allowing the data sets to be archived in the Rohner Center.
Not all countries where the research was conducted required or even expected respondents to provide informed consent. Informed consent was secured, however, in those countries where such consent was required. Passive consent was secured, however, in the other countries. That is, respondents were allowed to decline participation in the research if they chose to do so.
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