Improving Parental Emotion Socialization in Military Families: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Na Zhang, Jingchen Zhang, Abigail H. Gewirtz, Timothy F. Piehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Prior research indicates that children of deployed parents are at risk for emotional problems, suggesting the utility of preventive efforts for military families. Effective parental socialization of children's emotions is protective for children's development, and parental experiential avoidance may impede parental emotion socialization, yet intervention studies in this area are lacking. This study examined the impact of a parenting program, After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT), on parental emotion socialization postintervention (6 months postbaseline) and whether intervention effects were moderated by parental experiential avoidance. The sample included 336 families (294 fathers and 313 mothers) with at least 1 deployed parent and a focal child aged 4-12. Families were randomized into either ADAPT (a 14-week group-based intervention) or control group. Self-reported data on parental emotion socialization and experiential avoidance were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results showed that mothers who were assigned to the intervention had significant improved supportive emotion socialization and reduced nonsupportive emotion socialization at postintervention compared with controls. Mothers with higher levels of experiential avoidance assigned to the intervention group had higher levels of supportive emotion socialization at postintervention. No significant intervention effects were found in fathers. This study provides support for the effects of the ADAPT program on maternal emotion socialization at 6-month postbaseline, and the role of experiential avoidance as a moderator. We discuss findings in relation to the different parental roles that mothers and fathers play in postdeployed families, as well as implications for personalized intervention programming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1046-1056
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number8
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 13 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Emotion socialization
  • Experiential avoidance
  • Intervention
  • Military families
  • Parenting

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Webcast


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