Role of Gender and Emotionality Stigma in Perceived Parental Emotion Dysregulation and Adult Children’s Internalizing Symptoms

Hayley D. Seely, Kristin D. Mickelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Boys and girls learn early from their parents about what is appropriate and what is not in terms of emotional expression. We argue that these parental cues can lead to the formation of stigma around emotionality; yet there is a dearth of research on how stigma around emotionality may be formed through societal gender roles and stereotypes related to the expression of emotionality. The current study provides a preliminary investigation of this novel construct – emotionality stigma – as a mediator in the relationship between recalled parental emotion dysregulation (ED) and adult children’s internalizing symptoms. College and community individuals (N = 866) reported their emotionality stigma endorsement, their internalizing symptoms, and their parents' ED. Participants in our sample ranged in age from 18 to 68 years old (M = 28.2, SD = 9.8); 57.9% identified as female, and 61.4% identified as White. Structural equation modeling revealed parent and child gender differences in a mediational model where emotionality stigma significantly mediated the relation between recalled parental ED and adult children’s internalizing symptoms. Specifically, recalled paternal ED emerged as a stronger predictor of adult children’s internalizing symptoms as compared to recalled maternal ED. Furthermore, results showed a stronger indirect effect between maternal and paternal ED and adult children’s internalizing symptoms through emotionality stigma for male children as compared to female children. This research, while preliminary, is the first to demonstrate how parent and child gender interact to influence the relationship between recalled parental ED, emotionality stigma, and internalizing symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-527
Number of pages13
JournalSex Roles
Volume85
Issue number9-10
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Gender
  • Mental health
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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