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Emotion socialization profiles in military parents: Associations with post-traumatic stress disorder

APA Citation:

Giff, S. T., Renshaw, K. D., Denham, S. A., Martin, L. N., & Gewirtz, A. H. (2023). Emotion socialization profiles in military parents: Associations with post-traumatic stress disorder. Family Process. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12931

Abstract Created by REACH:

Emotion socialization is the process by which children learn how to understand, regulate, and express their emotions, often through interactions with their parents. This study identified unique profiles of parents based on their emotion socialization behaviors among National Guard/Reserve fathers and civilian mothers (N = 224 families). In other words, parents with similar approaches to emotion socialization were grouped together. Observations of parent-child interactions were used to quantify each parent’s emotion socialization behaviors, specifically their responses to their child’s emotions, emotion coaching, and modeling; these observations also recorded the children’s emotional expressiveness. 5 distinct profiles emerged.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches
Air Force

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Military families
Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran
Child of a service member or veteran


School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Quantitative Study


Giff, Sarah T., Renshaw, Keith D., Denham, Susanne A., Martin, Laura N., Gewirtz, Abigail H.


Military families face many difficulties, including a parent deploying to a warzone and the subsequent risk of returning with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD are associated with parenting difficulties; however, little is known about how PTSD symptoms may be associated with emotion socialization (ES), a set of processes crucial to children's emotional well-being. This project investigated observed ES behaviors in deployed and non-deployed parents in a sample of 224 predominantly White, non-Hispanic National Guard/Reserve (NG/R) families with deployed fathers, non-deployed mothers, and a child between the ages of 4 and 13. Parents completed self-report questionnaires and families engaged in videotaped parent–child discussions, which were coded for three types of ES behaviors. Latent profile analyses of the coded behaviors identified five profiles of parental ES: Balanced/Supportive, Balanced/Limited Expression, Unsupportive/Distressed, Unsupportive/Positive, and Involved/Emotive/Angry. Multinomial logistic regressions of each parent's profile membership on fathers' PTSD symptoms revealed no significant associations, while additional analyses including additional family factors revealed that greater father PTSD symptoms were associated with a greater likelihood of mothers being in the Balanced/Supportive profile compared to the Balanced/Limited Expression profile, particularly when children displayed average to low levels of emotion during discussion tasks. No other significant associations with PTSD symptoms were detected. Overall, in contrast to the hypotheses, the majority of these findings indicated that PTSD symptoms did not play a significant role in parental ES behaviors.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


emotion socialization, military families, parenting, PTSD

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2023

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