Intergenerational Effects of Childhood Maltreatment: Role of Emotion Dysregulation and Emotion Socialization

Laura N. Martin, Keith D. Renshaw, Kelsey L. Mauro, Timothy W. Curby, Emily Ansell, Tara Chaplin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The experience of childhood maltreatment is associated with greater psychological difficulties in survivors of maltreatment and their later children. While this intergenerational pattern is well-established, little is known about the mechanisms leading to negative outcomes in the children of maltreated parents. Moreover, many studies to date have focused on young children, with less research on adolescent children. In a sample of mother–adolescent child dyads (N = 241), we explored links between mothers’ experiences of childhood maltreatment and adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing symptoms over a 3-year period, as well as whether maternal emotion regulation difficulties and invalidating emotion socialization practices partially explained any links. Latent growth curve analysis revealed that internalizing symptoms increased slightly over the 3-year period, whereas externalizing symptoms remained stable on average. Mothers who reported higher levels of childhood maltreatment had adolescent children with greater overall levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, but not greater increases over time. Maternal emotion regulation partially mediated the association between maternal history of childhood maltreatment and offspring externalizing symptoms but not internalizing symptoms. Maternal emotion socialization did not account for either association. Our results suggest that mothers’ experiences of childhood maltreatment are associated with greater overall psychological difficulties in their adolescent children, and mothers’ own emotion dysregulation partially accounts for that association for externalizing symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2187-2197
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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