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J Interpers Violence. 2013 Mar;28(4):718-34. doi: 10.1177/0886260512455866. Epub 2012 Aug 27.

Fathers' emotional awareness and children's empathy and externalizing problems: the role of intimate partner violence.

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  • 1University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Emerging evidence suggests that fathers, more so than mothers, socialize emotions in a gender-stereotyped manner. Gender-stereotyped emotion socialization may be particularly pronounced in men perpetrating intimate partner violence (IPV), and may be detrimental to child adjustment, particularly for boys. This study explored the relation between fathers' socialization of children's emotions and child adjustment in families where IPV is present. We hypothesized that in families where there is IPV, fathers' awareness of their children's sadness and fear will be associated with negative child outcomes. Participants were 74 families recruited for a longitudinal study. Interview and questionnaire measures were used to assess IPV and fathers' emotional awareness when children were 5 years old. Child adjustment was measured when children were 16 years old. Results suggested that in families where there is IPV, fathers who were more aware of their children's fear had children who showed lower levels of empathy and higher levels of externalizing problems than children whose fathers were less aware of their fear, specifically for boys. Results are discussed in terms of gender socialization in families where there is IPV.

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