Anxiety-Promoting Parenting Behaviors: A Comparison of Anxious Mothers and Fathers
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The majority of research identifying anxiety-promoting parenting behaviors has been conducted with mothers, leaving a gap in current knowledge about the role of fathers’ parenting behaviors. In an attempt to fill this gap, this study compared anxiety-promoting parenting behaviors of anxious mothers and fathers. Parents completed self-report measures of parenting behavior and independent coders rated parenting behaviors (i.e., overcontrol, granting of autonomy, warmth, hostility, anxious behavior) of mothers (n = 34) and fathers (n = 21) during a challenging parent–child interaction task (children were ages 6–12). Results indicated that anxious fathers were observed to be more controlling than anxious mothers; while anxious mothers reported using more punishment and reinforcement of children’s dependence in anxiety provoking situations compared to fathers. Findings extend our knowledge about anxious fathers, and highlight the need for additional research on the impact of fathers’ parenting with respect to the development of child anxiety.