Father-Child Relations Mediate the Relations Between Paternal Expressiveness and Adolescent Behaviors

Abstract

Emotional expressiveness is an important type of parental emotion-related socialization that has been associated with adolescent prosocial and problem behaviors; yet little is known about the relation between paternal emotional expressiveness and adolescent behaviors in the Chinese context. In this study, we investigated how paternal emotional expressiveness was associated with Chinese adolescent prosocial and problem behaviors and whether father-adolescent closeness and conflict mediated these associations when controlling for maternal influences. Participants were 166 adolescents (aged between 12 and 16; 53% males) and their parents in Mainland China. Fathers and mothers reported their positive and negative emotional expressiveness in the family, the closeness and conflict in their relationships with adolescents, and adolescent prosocial and problem behaviors. Results revealed that paternal negative emotional expressiveness was directly and positively related to adolescent problem behaviors, controlling for maternal emotional expressiveness and mother-adolescent relationship. Moreover, both paternal positive and negative emotional expressiveness were indirectly associated with adolescent problem behaviors through father-adolescent conflict, controlling for maternal influences. In the same model, paternal positive and negative emotional expressiveness were not related to father-adolescent closeness, but father-adolescent closeness was positively related to adolescent prosocial behaviors. An alternative model examining whether father-adolescent relationship was related to paternal emotional expressiveness, which in turn was related to adolescent behaviors was tested. Results showed that the hypothesized model fit the data better than the alternative model. Findings highlight the role that the father plays in Chinese adolescent behaviors by expressing positive and negative emotions within the family.

Highlights

  • Paternal negative emotional expressiveness was positively related to father-adolescent conflict and problem behaviors.

  • Father-adolescent closeness was positively associated with adolescent prosocial behaviors.

  • Adolescents who had higher conflict with fathers exhibited more problem behaviors.

  • Paternal positive and negative emotional expressiveness were linked to problem behaviors via father-adolescent conflict.

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Acknowledgements

We thank all the families that participated in our study. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments throughout the publication process.

Funding

The study was partly funded by Major Project of the National Social Science Foundation of China (14ZDB160).

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Authors

Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by XZ, LL, and LB. Data analyses were performed by LL and XZ. The first draft of the manuscript was written by XZ and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yinghe Chen.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Beijing Normal University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Zhang, X., Li, L., Bai, L. et al. Father-Child Relations Mediate the Relations Between Paternal Expressiveness and Adolescent Behaviors. J Child Fam Stud (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-01901-x

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Keywords

  • Chinese fathers
  • Paternal emotional expressiveness
  • Father-adolescent relationship
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Problem behavior