Category: Parenting / Families
The association between emotion regulation (ER) and a broad range of psychosocial outcomes is well documented. Factor analyses of the construct of ER reveals six subcategories, and research has established these domains as differentially associated with adjustment outcomes.
Considering the importance of ER on development and adjustment, research has focused on identifying influences on an individual’s ER ability. Research suggests stability of the family environment as important in the development and maintenance of ER and adjustment. Molecular family stability, or the regularity of family activities and routines in the home (e.g., family meals) as well as those that occur outside the home with family support (e.g., extracurricular activities), is associated with ER and adjustment in adolescents and emerging adults. The relationships between stability and various aspects of ER have yet to be explored. Because of the normative shift in emotional development in the transition from adolescence to adulthood, it would be useful to examine these across developmental contexts.
This study evaluates associations between family stability and factors of ER and adjustment in two independent samples of adolescents (N=65; ages 13 to17 years, M=14.25) and emerging adults (N=80; ages 18 to 21, M=18.6). Both groups completed measures of family stability, ER, and adjustment. Molecular family stability was measured using the Stability of Activities in the Family Environment (SAFE), which asks participants to rate the regularity of their family activities and routines; emerging adults completed a retrospective version (SAFE-R), adolescents completed a parallel current self-report (SAFE-Y). Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) was used to assess current characteristic patterns of emotion dysregulation. Adjustment was measured using ASEBA Youth Self-Report (YSR) and Adult Self-Report (ASR). All procedures were approved by the University’s IRB.
Preliminary analyses suggest family stability (SAFE-Y/SAFE-R) may be differentially associated with ER. For adolescents, SAFE-Y was significantly negatively correlated with the DERS total score and factors, including deficits in impulse control, lack of emotion awareness, limited access to emotion regulation strategies, and lack of emotional clarity. However, two factors, nonacceptance of emotions and difficulties engaging in goal-directed behavior, were not significantly associated with SAFE-Y. For emerging adults, SAFE-R was significantly correlated with all DERS outcome variables except lack of emotional awareness. As expected, SAFE-Y/R were significantly correlated with YSR/ASR adjustment variables, respectively.
Results suggest family stability, ER and adjustment may be important across developmental contexts with variability in the pattern of associations. In line with this year’s conference theme, the current study seeks to enhance understanding of how family environment may be related to aspects of ER at diverse stages of development. A greater understanding of these relationships may assist in development of targeted methods of intervention to enhance ER and promote positive development across developmental contexts.