Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 3455–3466 | Cite as

Parent Socialization of Positive and Negative Emotions: Implications for Emotional Functioning, Life Satisfaction, and Distress

  • Jyothi L. RamakrishnanEmail author
  • Rula B. Garside
  • Madelyn H. Labella
  • Bonnie Klimes-Dougan
Original Paper



Few studies have explored the implications of parent socialization of positive emotions in children. Further, when considering outcomes of children, the focus has been primarily on links between parental emotion socialization and maladaptive child outcomes such as psychological distress, rather than adaptive outcomes such as life satisfaction. This study investigated whether recollection of supportive and unsupportive maternal and paternal responses to one’s expressions of positive and negative emotions in childhood was linked with life satisfaction and psychological distress in young adulthood, and consideration of whether parent emotion socialization and young adult outcomes were indirectly associated via young adult emotional experience.


262 college students completed instruments evaluating parental emotion socialization practices in childhood, emotional experience, life satisfaction, and psychological distress.


Fathers’ supportive responses to positive emotions in childhood was indirectly associated with greater young adult life satisfaction through greater young adult positive emotional experience. Fathers’ supportive responses to negative emotions in childhood was indirectly associated with less young adult distress through less young adult negative emotional experience. Mothers’ supportive responses to negative emotions in childhood was indirectly associated with greater young adult life satisfaction through greater young adult positive emotional experience. Finally, fathers’ unsupportive responses to negative emotions in childhood was indirectly associated with greater young adult distress through greater young adult negative emotional experience.


These results, if replicated with prospective longitudinal methodology, suggest that mother and father figures play unique roles in shaping the emotional lives of children, with long-term implications for mental health and well-being.


Emotion Socialization Parenting Distress Well-being 


Author Contributions

J.R. collaborated with the design and execution of the study, analysis of data, and writing of the paper. R.G. collected the data and collaborated with the writing of the paper. M.L. collaborated with the design and execution of the study, analysis of data, and writing of the paper. B.K. collaborated with the design and execution of the study, analysis of data, and writing of the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Child DevelopmentUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.1330 New Hampshire Avenue, NWWashingtonUSA

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