Harsh maternal discipline, according to a study, can leave daughters vulnerable to anxiety and depression

Harsh maternal discipline, according to a study, can leave daughters vulnerable to anxiety and depre ...

Harsh parenting methods result in increased rumination, increasing children's anxiety and depression, according to a new research in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopathology. Despite their findings, the findings may aid our understanding of factors that lead to mental illness in childhood and adolescence.

According to Anne Marie Iselin and her colleagues, anxiety and depression are caused by a lack of emotion regulation. Emotion regulation can be defined as "people's attempts to influence emotions, defined as time-limited, situationally bound, and valenced (positive or negative) states." During childhood, emotional regulation becomes critical.

Rumination, or a "internally passive, persistent, and unproductive process in which the person dwells on their negative mood, including its meaning, what happened, and what might follow," is considered an anomaly of poor emotional regulation. Previous studies have linked rumination to depression and anxiety in adolescents.

Prior studies have shown that corporal punishment and psychological aggression are associated with increased adolescent rumination, particularly in cultures where harsh parenting is not the norm. Therefore, Iselin and her colleagues sought to investigate if individuals who received harsh parenting received more rumination and increased anxieties.

The subjects of this research were those who participated in the Longitudinal Parenting Across Cultures study and lived in Italy, Columbia, and the United States. 567 mothers, 428 fathers, and 566 children were evenly distributed across the three locations. Data was collected three times when the children were 10, 12, and 13 years old.

Parents completed a questionnaire about parental discipline, addressing their personal discipline methods, and what they knew about discipline methods within their culture. They also completed questionnaires about anxiety and depression.

Harsh maternal discipline was linked to higher rumination rates and better anxiety scores for girls more than boys, according to data analysis. Paternal harsh discipline appeared to have no consequence for male or female children.

Harsh maternal discipline and its association to rumination, anxiety, and depression decreased somewhat when harsh discipline was more normalized, but it did not completely vanish. These findings may suggest that mother-daughter relationships are a major contributor to female anxiety and depression during childhood.

The authors acknowledged that the research had its limitations. First, they only examined the relationship between rumination and anxiety and depression; there are likely to be other factors that play a role in their development. Second, the parental measures of harsh discipline were self-reported, resulting in bias. Final, the children participants may have different opinions on what is considered "harsh discipline."

Despite these anxieties, the research team believes they have made substantial progress in uncovering the environmental triggers that may leave adolescent girls vulnerable to anxiety or depression. According to them, "Intervention and prevention measures reducing negative parenting behaviors while considering norms and increasing adolescents' emotion regulation abilities during early adolescence could ultimately enhance children's psychological well-being in the world."

Anne Marie R. Iselin, Laura DiGiunta, Nancy Eisenberg, Kenneth A. Dodge, Concetta Pastorelli, Liliana Maria Uribe Tirado, Dario Bacchini, Irene Fiasconaro, Giulia Gliozzo, Emanuele Basili, Flavia Cirimele, Chiara Remondi, and Ann T. Skinner coauthored the paper.

You may also like: