Less is More: Emotion Regulation Deficits in Military Fathers Magnify their Benefit from a Parenting Program

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Less is More: Emotion Regulation Deficits in Military Fathers Magnify their Benefit from a Parenting Program

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Combat deployment and exposure to traumatic events may cause deficits in emotion regulation, thus impairing military parents’ capacities to respond effectively to children’s emotions. This is a particularly salient issue for fathers – who comprise the majority of service members – following deployment to war. Evidence-based parenting programs have been developed to improve parenting practices in military families, however, little is known about the role of parents’ emotion regulation on the effectiveness of the parenting program. Using data from a randomized controlled trial, this study examines the effects of the After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) program, on observed emotion socialization related parenting behaviors (ESRBs), and whether self-reported emotion regulation of service member fathers affects program outcomes. This study used a subset of data from the ADAPT study, which included 181 fathers (M age = 37.76, SD = 6.42) in 2­parent families who had been deployed to recent conflicts and who had at least one 4-12-year-old child living in the home. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the intent-to-treat effect of the ADAPT program on observed effective parenting 1 year post-baseline, the moderating effect of self-reported emotion dysregulation at baseline, and the mediating role of emotion dysregulation at baseline at 1-year post-baseline. Results showed that the intervention did not directly improve fathers’ observed ESRBs relative to the control group. However, the intervention did significantly reduce observed reactivity/coercion and distress avoidance among fathers with .5 SD above average self-reported difficulties in emotion regulation at baseline. Moreover, fathers’ emotion regulation difficulties at 1 year were found to mediate the intervention effect on observed reactivity/coercion, which was strengthened by higher levels of baseline emotion regulation difficulties. Implications for personalized parenting interventions are described.


University of Minnesota M.A. thesis.May 2018. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Abigail Gewirtz. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 34 pages.

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Zhang, Jingchen. (2018). Less is More: Emotion Regulation Deficits in Military Fathers Magnify their Benefit from a Parenting Program. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/200111.

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