Emotion regulation and psychological mechanisms in parenthood

Bannister, Gina (2022) Emotion regulation and psychological mechanisms in parenthood. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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The arrival of an infant can be a rewarding yet challenging time for parents. There is a need to adapt and navigate their new roles and contexts with reduced resources. This research aimed to explore psychological mechanisms in parents of infants which are important during this period of adjustment. Chapter 1 outlines a review of quantitative literature examining the relationship between emotion regulation and psychological distress (defined as depression, anxiety, and stress) in parents of infants. Four databases were systematically searched, and seventeen papers met the requirements for inclusion. The findings of the review highlighted reduced emotion regulation correlated with depression, anxiety, and stress. Emotion regulation and psychological distress were also found to be crucial mechanisms in mediation models with additional variables related to parenthood. Recognising the relationship between specific measures of emotion regulation and psychological distress for parents, may allow for clinical interventions which focus more on reducing dysregulation, rather that improving regulating skills. Chapter 2 reports an empirical study investigating the relationship between childhood adversity and parental reflective functioning in fathers. The role of emotion regulation was also considered in this relationship. Fathers (n = 140) of infants completed online self-report measures to assess the study variables. No relationship was found between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and two domains of parental reflective functioning (PRF). Emotion regulation was found to mediate the relationship between ACEs and the PRF domain certainty about mental states. The results suggest that ACEs do not influence certain PRF domains, but that emotion dysregulation is an important mechanism in understanding this relationship. The study proposed that reducing emotion dysregulation for fathers can help promote parental reflective functioning. Chapter 3 outlines the main findings and discusses key decision making throughout the research process. Finally, reflections on the thesis journey are described.

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Thesis (PhD)
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14 Sep 2022 11:05
Last Modified:
28 Sep 2023 23:08