Associations of Parental Emotions and Behaviors with Changes in Child Emotions During Face-to-Face Interactions
Objectives. Parenting is a significant factor in the development of depression during adolescence. However, little research has specifically studied the association of expressed parental emotion during parent-child interactions on later expressed child emotion. The current study investigated the relationship between parent and child observed emotion—more specifically, how parents’ expressed emotion in one task may be associated with children’s expressed emotion in a subsequent task. Methods. Parents with a history of depression (N = 242, M age = 41.72) and their children (M age = 11.53) participated in two interaction tasks—one conversation about a recent pleasant activity and one about a recent stressful experience for the family. Observed emotions including sadness, hostility, and positive mood in parents and children in these video-recorded interactions were measured using a macro-level coding system. Parent observed emotion scores in the stressful task were used to predict changes in child observed emotion scores in the stressful task, controlling for child observed emotion scores in the prior, pleasant task. Results. Parent sadness was positively correlated with child sadness and negatively correlated with child hostility in the second task. Parent sadness accounted for changes in child sadness and hostility in task 2, parent hostility accounted for changes in child hostility in task 2, and parent positive mood accounted for changes in child positive mood in task 2, even after accounting for levels of child respective emotions in the prior task and the parent BDI-II score. Conclusions. Parent and child emotions are significantly related and parents’ emotions may contribute to changes in children’s emotions. Analyzing changes in child emotions from moment-to-moment, interaction-to-interaction may provide insight into healthy parenting strategies, and, more specifically, the significant influence of parental emotions and behaviors on their children.