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Emotion Socialization and Young Adult Internalizing Symptoms: the Roles of Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation

  • Laura G. McKee
  • Erinn B. Duprey
  • Catherine W. O’Neal


Caregivers play a crucial role in the socialization of youth emotional understanding and regulation, which are implicated in socio-emotional outcomes. Although a rich literature details the sequelae of parent emotion socialization (ES) strategies, there is less understanding of variables that may explain associations between ES strategies and youth psychopathology. The current study aimed to test potential explanatory variables–mindfulness and emotion regulation strategies. SEM was utilized to test direct and indirect effects of young adult recalled parent ES, mindfulness, and emotion suppression and cognitive reappraisal on internalizing symptoms in a sample (N = 256) of 18 to 33 year olds (Mage = 19.85, SDage = 2.31). Higher levels of supportive ES were positively related to young adult mindfulness (β = 0.334, SE = 0.102, p < .05, for mothers; β = 0.366, SE = 0.097, p < .01, for fathers). In turn, mindfulness was related to higher levels of cognitive reappraisal (β = 0.250, SE = 0.114, p < .01), lower levels of emotion suppression (β = − 0.433, SE = 0.138, p < .001), and lower levels of internalizing symptoms (β = − 0.793, SE = 0.897, p < .001). Several indirect effects were also significant. Results provided support for the indirect influence of parents’ supportive ES on offspring internalizing symptoms through young adult mindfulness and cognitive reappraisal. Parenting interventions designed to create healthy family contexts may wish to incorporate a focus on supportive ES responses, given associations with offspring mindfulness, adaptive emotion regulation strategies, and lower internalizing symptoms.


Emotion socialization Internalizing symptoms Mindfulness Emotion regulation 



This publication was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

Authors’ Contributions

LGM: designed and executed the study’s data collection, discussed data analyses with EDB and CWO, and wrote the first draft of the paper. EBD: primarily conducted the data analyses and contributed to the writing and editing of the paper, particularly the data analysis and results sections and the description of measures. CWO: collaborated with the design of the study, the data analytic approach and editing of manuscript.


This project was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to the first author. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

The procedures in this study were approved by the IRB at Clark University. Georgia State University has also approved the use of these data.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Human Development and Family ScienceUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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