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The transmission of parental coping and effects on current adjustment in a college population

26 July 2005


The aim of this study was to further investigate the relationship of mother and child coping styles and how coping styles relate to the child's level of adjustment. This study reviewed the empirical and theoretical literature on parental factors that influence coping styles and student adjustment~ as well as empirically testing a model proposing maternal coping style as a predictor, mediator, and moderator of student coping and adjustment. Participants included 151 undergraduates and their mothers. Mothers and students reported on their own coping behaviors as measured by the COPE (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989), and students reported on two areas of adjustment including depression and anxiety. Consistent with the literature, maladaptive coping was related to students experiencing more symptoms of depression and anxiety. Of most interest, was an interactive effect with mother and student coping in which under conditions of high child adaptive coping and high mother maladaptive coping, the child's symptoms of anxiety were low. There were no mediating effects detected between mothers and their children's coping styles relating to symptoms of depression and anxiety. These findings underscore the importance of looking at emerging adults' coping along with the coping styles of significant others, such as parents, whose coping patterns affect their child's coping and adjustment even when that individual transitions to a college setting.


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