University of Oulu

Kiviniemi, A.A.I., Koivumaa-Honkanen, HT.J., Heikkinen, H.P. et al. Is a harsh childhood growth environment reflected in parental images and emotional distress in adulthood?. Curr Psychol 41, 2194–2206 (2022).

Is a harsh childhood growth environment reflected in parental images and emotional distress in adulthood?

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Author: Kiviniemi, Annukka A. I.1,2; Koivumaa-Honkanen, Heli-Tuulie J.2,3,4; Heikkinen, Hanna P.5;
Organizations: 1PEDEGO Research Unit, Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
3Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
4Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland
5Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-03-08


Harsh parenting can predispose a child to emotional distress, whereas a supportive childhood environment furthers later subjective well-being. We investigated whether the mother’s self-reported assessment of her strictness and the adult offspring’s recollections of the disciplinary methods of their parents are reflected in the adult offspring’s recalled parental images and current emotional distress, anxiety and depression as assessed by the Hopkins Symptom Check List (HSCL-25). Further, we investigated whether the offspring’s parental images were also associated with the HSCL-25 scores. Data was collected from northern Finland. The mothers responded to a questionnaire when their child was seven years old (N = 354) and the adult offspring responded at age 28–29 (N = 337). The mother’s assessment of her own strictness was associated both with the adult offspring’s dominating images of their parents and their current emotional distress, anxiety and depression. The offspring’s recollections of restriction and corporal punishment were associated with dominating parental images, and these images further with current emotional distress, anxiety and depression of the offspring. Correspondingly, the offspring’s recollections of parental dialogic discipline were associated with supportive and sociable parental images, and recalled paternal dialogic discipline was associated with lower current emotional distress, particularly in the female offspring. In conclusion, harsh parenting was associated with dominating parental images, which in turn were associated with emotional distress in adulthood. Dialogic discipline and the father’s role in parenting were emphasized in the offspring’s well-being, but more research is needed to assess the importance of paternity for the offspring’s subjective well-being.

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Series: Current psychology
ISSN: 1046-1310
ISSN-E: 1936-4733
ISSN-L: 1046-1310
Volume: 41
Pages: 2194 - 2206
DOI: 10.1007/s12144-020-00696-2
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
515 Psychology
Funding: We are grateful to the Gyllenberg Foundation for grants to Hanna Ebeling and Annukka Kiviniemi, to the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Psychological Institute of Finland, the Lisa Andström Foundation and the University of Oulu Scholarship Fund for grants to Annukka Kiviniemi. Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
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