When my mommy was angry, I was speechless

Children's perceptions of maternal emotional expressiveness within the context of economic hardship

C. Cybele Raver, Mary Spagnola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study examined relations among poverty-related risk, mothers' self-report of negative emotional expressiveness, and children's representations of maternal anger and sadness (N = 46). Children's accuracy was lower when identifying negative emotions than when identifying positive emotions. Significant differences between children exposed to high versus low levels of maternal negative expressiveness were found. Children of highly negative mothers were less accurate in identifying maternal anger, used fewer anger-related terms, and described maternal anger as significantly less intense. These children also were significantly more likely to generate punitive solutions to child anger and irrelevant/incomplete solutions to maternal sadness than were children with less emotionally negative mothers. Support was also found for the negative impact of poverty-related risk on emotional processes within the family. These findings are discussed in light of models of emotion socialization, risk, and resilience among low-income families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-88
Number of pages26
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Volume34
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2002

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anger
economics
emotion
poverty
socialization
resilience
low income

Keywords

  • Economic hardship
  • Emotion socialization
  • Maternal emotional expressiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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abstract = "This study examined relations among poverty-related risk, mothers' self-report of negative emotional expressiveness, and children's representations of maternal anger and sadness (N = 46). Children's accuracy was lower when identifying negative emotions than when identifying positive emotions. Significant differences between children exposed to high versus low levels of maternal negative expressiveness were found. Children of highly negative mothers were less accurate in identifying maternal anger, used fewer anger-related terms, and described maternal anger as significantly less intense. These children also were significantly more likely to generate punitive solutions to child anger and irrelevant/incomplete solutions to maternal sadness than were children with less emotionally negative mothers. Support was also found for the negative impact of poverty-related risk on emotional processes within the family. These findings are discussed in light of models of emotion socialization, risk, and resilience among low-income families.",
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