FAMJAM (Families Joining Around Memories: A Study of Communication and Development)

The Role of Family Communication on Child Moral Emotion and Regulation Development

The FAMJAM study is interested in how parent problem-solving strategies and the emotional communication styles of mothers, fathers, and their preschool-aged children influence the development of self-regulation and moral emotions (i.e. guilt and shame) in children.

Research Overview

Theory and empirical evidence indicate that parent-child and parent-parent dynamics influence the development of child self-regulation and moral emotions (i.e. guilt and shame), which in turn link to a host of key developmental outcomes including academic and peer competence, and internalizing and externalizing problems. The overall objective of the current project is to examine how family discussion about past emotional shared and unshared experiences (i.e. reminiscing) and maternal and paternal destructive and constructive conflict resolution styles (i.e. interparental conflict) relate to child self-regulation and the development of guilt and shame during the preschool years. Guilt and shame represent two distinct moral emotions that develop early in life. Some children tend to experience one of these emotions over the other and while a proclivity toward guilt relates to more positive developmental outcomes, proneness to shame is linked to more negative developmental outcomes. Although there is a relatively strong literature base enumerating the influence of interparental conflict on child functioning and the role of mothers’ reminiscing styles on child outcomes, there is a dearth of literature examining the role of fathers, or interactions involving both parents, on child self-regulation and guilt and shame development. Additionally, no previous literature has assessed the roles of family reminiscing and interparental conflict together in relation to child self-regulation and moral development. One hundred and twenty mother-father-child triads will participate in this study. It is hypothesized that more emotionally supportive and elaborative mother-father-child reminiscing and more constructive and less destructive interparental conflict resolution styles will link positively to child self-regulation and moral development. The present investigation aims to advance understanding of factors at the family level that influence child adaptive self-regulatory and moral development and poses potential implications for interventions targeting family processes and child self-regulation.

 

Funded By

Graduate Student Research Award (GSRA) - Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters

Age Group

  • Adults
  • Preschooler

Investigators

  • Ruth Speidel, Graduate Student
  • Amanda Nowak, Graduate Student
  • Kristin Valentino, Ph.D. 
  • Julie Braungart-Rieker, Ph.D.

Partners

Research Impact

The present investigation aims to advance understanding of factors at the family level that influence child adaptive self-regulatory and moral development. The findings pose potential implications for interventions targeting family processes, child guilt and shame, and self-regulatory development.

Research Themes