Capturing the Family Context of Emotion Regulation: A Family Systems Model Comparison Approach
Journal of Family Issues
Several dimensions of family functioning are recognized as formative influences on children’s emotion regulation. Historically, they have been studied separately, limiting our ability to understand how they function within the family system. The present investigation tested models including family emotional climate, interparental conflict, and maternal and paternal warmth and emotional support in relation to children’s emotion regulation, using a multimethod, multi-informant design with 150 ethnically diverse two-parent families. Mother, father, and child surveys and observational techniques were used to assess the variables of interest. Three theoretically informed comprehensive models were tested and compared. The best fitting model highlighted positive family climate and maternal warmth and sensitivity as unique predictors. Interparental conflict was indirectly linked with children’s emotion regulation through both processes. This study underscores the value of evaluating family-wide, interparental, and parenting dimensions within a broader family systems model to gain a more complete understanding of children’s regulation.