Emotion socialization in mothers with mood disorders: Affective modeling and recollected responses to childhood emotion

Madelyn H. Labella, Sarah K. Ruiz, Susan J. Harris, Bonnie Klimes-Dougan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Growing evidence suggests that emotion socialization may be disrupted by maternal depression. However, little is known about emotion-related parenting by mothers with bipolar disorder or whether affective modeling in early childhood is linked to young adults' recollections of emotion socialization practices. The current study investigates emotion socialization by mothers with histories of major depression, bipolar disorder, or no mood disorder. Affective modeling was coded from parent-child interactions in early childhood and maternal responses to negative emotions were recollected by young adult offspring (n = 131, 59.5% female, M age = 22.16, SD = 2.58). Multilevel models revealed that maternal bipolar disorder was associated with more neglecting, punishing, and magnifying responses to children's emotions, whereas maternal major depression was associated with more magnifying responses; links between maternal diagnosis and magnifying responses were robust to covariates. Young adult recollections of maternal responses to emotion were predicted by affective modeling in early childhood, providing preliminary validity evidence for the Emotions as a Child Scale. Findings provide novel evidence that major depression and bipolar disorder are associated with altered emotion socialization and that maternal affective modeling in early childhood prospectively predicts young adults' recollections of emotion socialization in families with and without mood disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1169
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number4
Early online dateJul 16 2020
StatePublished - Oct 7 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NCT00001170), the Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on the Transition from Infancy to Early Childhood, Graduate Research Fellowships awarded to the first and second author from the National Science Foundation, and a doctoral fellowship awarded to the first author from the University of Minnesota. The third author is now at the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. The authors especially acknowledge the families who generously participated in this study, as well as the critical contributions of Anne Mayfield and many research investigators, students, and research assistants who made this study possible.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 Cambridge University Press.


  • bipolar disorder
  • emotion socialization
  • maternal depression

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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