- Parental rearing as a function of parent's own, partner's, and child's anxiety status: fathers make the difference
- Cognition & Emotion
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- The Kohnstamm Instituut
Parents of children with anxiety disorders are found to be over controlling and more rejecting in parent-child interactions than parents of control children. However, most studies included mothers, and the rearing behaviour of fathers of anxious children is largely unknown. Also, it remains unclear whether parents’ control and rejection is a response to child’s anxiety, or (also) results from parents’ own anxiety. Participants were 121 children referred with anxiety disorders and 38 control children, and their parents. The diagnostic status of all parents was assessed. Each child conducted discussions around issues of disagreement, with father, with mother, and with both parents. Compared to parents of control children, fathers and mothers of clinically anxious children displayed more control to their child, but not more rejection, and fathers supported their partner less. Effect sizes, however, were small. In families of fathers with anxiety disorders, fathers were borderline more controlling and rejecting and mothers more rejecting towards their anxious child than in families of fathers without anxiety disorders. Fathers with anxiety disorders dominated the conversation relative to mothers, which was associated with greater controlling of the child. Effect sizes were medium. Mothers’ anxiety status was not associated with different rearing behaviours in both parents. It is concluded that fathers’ anxiety status seems to make the difference in raising an anxious child.
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