Though associations between parenting styles marked by control (e.g., prevention of autonomous experiences) or rejection (e.g., criticism, arbitrary blame, and withholding of warmth) and youth anxiety have been established in the literature, few studies have examined cognitive mediators purported to explain these associations.
The present study explored relations among perceptions of maternal and paternal parenting, emotional self-efficacy (i.e., perceived control over negative emotion), and anxiety in adolescents and tested a mediational model in which emotional self-efficacy explains the relation between negative parenting styles and youth anxiety.
One hundred and twenty-four non-referred adolescents aged 12–18 completed questionnaires assessing study variables in school settings.
Emotional self-efficacy and maternal rejection predicted anxiety, maternal control was a marginally significant predictor of anxiety, and paternal rejection and control were not associated with anxiety. Maternal rejection, but not paternal rejection or control by either parent, predicted emotional self-efficacy, and emotional self-efficacy mediated the relation between maternal rejection and anxiety.
Results offer support for a commonly cited theoretical pathway from maternal rejection to youth anxiety by teaching that positive emotional outcomes are rare and outside of the child’s control. Support was not found for a similarly theorized pathway from maternal control to youth anxiety through emotional self-efficacy. Findings point to a greater relation between youth anxiety and perceived negative parenting by mothers relative to fathers.
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Niditch, L.A., Varela, R.E. Perceptions of Parenting, Emotional Self-Efficacy, and Anxiety in Youth: Test of a Mediational Model. Child Youth Care Forum 41, 21–35 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-011-9150-x