Parental images as mediators of childhood experiences: effects on the quality of intimate relationships and well-being in adulthood

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Public defence via remote access (Teams)

Topic of the dissertation

Parental images as mediators of childhood experiences: effects on the quality of intimate relationships and well-being in adulthood

Doctoral candidate

Master of Education (Educational Psychology) Annukka Kiviniemi

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, PEDEGO Research Unit, University of Oulu, Child Psychiatry

Subject of study

Child Psychiatry

Opponent

Docent Jari Sinkkonen, Helsinki

Custos

Professor Hanna Ebeling, Oulu

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Parental images as mediators of childhood experiences: effects on the quality of intimate relationships and well-being in adulthood

The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between parental images and adult well-being.

This study explored, a) the connections between parental images and the quality of the offspring’s current intimate relationships; b) differences between females and males in relation to their parental images and the quality of their intimate relationships; and c) whether offspring’s parental images are associated with their emotional distress. In addition, whether the mother’s self-reported assessment of her strictness and the adult offspring’s recollections of the disciplinary methods of their parents are associated with the adult offspring’s parental images and current emotional distress, anxiety, and depression, was studied.

A supportive mother image was associated with the daughters’ and sons’ – and a supportive paternal image only with the daughters’ – balanced relationships. A dominant father image was associated with both the daughters’ and sons’ submissive/repressive relationships. A supportive image of the opposite sex parent was associated with the offspring’s loving relationships and protected them from quarrelsome relationships. A supportive image of the father also protected the female offspring from a submissive/repressive relationship.

A recollection of dialogic discipline of both parents was positively associated with the corresponding parent's supportive and sociable images, and correspondingly restriction and corporal punishment with dominating parental images. Dominating images of both parents, maternal strictness, and lack of recalled paternal dialogic discipline were associated with the offspring's emotional distress (HSCL-25), anxiety, and depression symptoms.

The results of the study increase understanding on the importance of childhood relationships for later well-being. Parental images may act as mediators between childhood experiences and current well-being. The perceptions of the father were emphasized.
Last updated: 13.6.2022