Posttraumatic Stress and Parenting Behaviors: The Mediating Role of Emotion Regulation

Shaina A. Kumar, Molly R. Franz, Rebecca L. Brock, David DiLillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Maternal trauma has been linked with problematic parenting, including both harsh and permissive behaviors. However, little is known about mechanisms accounting for this association. The current study examined the potential impact of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and emotion regulation on dysfunctional parenting behaviors in a sample of community mothers. We hypothesized a mediation model wherein PTSD would be associated with dysfunctional parenting (i.e., lax and overreactive behaviors) indirectly through deficits in maternal emotion regulation. Seventy-eight community mothers of 18- to 36-month-old children were administered the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5) and 19 mothers met criteria for PTSD. Mothers also completed self-report measures of difficulties with emotion regulation and maternal laxness and overreactivity in parenting. Results revealed that emotion dysregulation fully mediated relations between PTSD status and lax (but not overreactive) parenting behaviors. Compared to mothers without PTSD, those with PTSD reported greater lax parenting behaviors indirectly through greater emotion dysregulation. Mothers with PTSD may struggle to parent assertively when trauma symptoms interfere with emotion regulation abilities. The current study highlights the need to design interventions focused on helping trauma-exposed mothers manage distress, ultimately aiming to enhance parenting effectiveness and improve child outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-426
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Emotion regulation
  • Family
  • Lax
  • Mothers
  • Parenting
  • Permissive
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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