Mother-child and father-child emotional availability during the COVID-19 pandemic

While the body of literature on COVID's impact to family life is rapidly expanding, most studies are based entirely on self-report data, leaving a critical gap in observational studies of parent-child interactions. The goal of this study was to evaluate parent-child relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic using the observational Emotional Availability (EA) construct. Parents (N = 43) were assessed using the Epidemic Pandemic Impacts Inventory (EPII), the Flourishing Scale (FLS), and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) questionnaires. The subcategories of the EPII were used to develop an EPII negative and an EPII positive for each parent. EA (sensitivity, structuring, nonhostility, nonintrusiveness, child responsiveness, and child involvement) was coded from filmed parent-child interactions. Separate hierarchical multiple regressions (HMRs) were run to evaluate each of the variables of interest (EPII and FLS) as predictive of EA. Child age and ACEs were added in subsequent steps for EPII negative and positive if the initial step was significant. For mothers, results demonstrated EPII negative as a significant predictor of EA with child age and ACEs adding only small amount of variance to the prediction. The same HMR process was repeated for flourishing, with the covariate child age alone. For fathers, flourishing was a significant predictor of EA and child age added only a small amount of variance to the prediction. Results indicate that experiencing high COVID-related stressors is associated with lower EA for mothers, but not fathers. Having high levels of flourishing during the pandemic was predictive of higher EA for fathers, but not mothers.
2023 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Embargo expires: 08/28/2025.
emotional availability
COVID-19 pandemic
Associated Publications