The affective organization of parenting: adaptive and maladaptive processes

Psychol Bull. 1991 Jul;110(1):3-25. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.110.1.3.


This article presents a 3-component model of parenting that places emotion at the heart of parental competence. The model emphasizes (a) child, parent, and contextual factors that activate parents' emotions; (b) orienting, organizing, and motivating effects that emotions have on parenting once aroused; and (c) processes parents use to understand and control emotions. Emotions are vital to effective parenting. When invested in the interest of children, emotions organize sensitive, responsive parenting. Emotions undermine parenting, however, when they are too weak, too strong, or poorly matched to child rearing tasks. In harmonious relationships emotions are, on average, positive because parents manage interactions so that children's and parents' concerns are promoted. In distressed relationships chronic negative emotion is both a cause and a consequence of interactions that undermine parents' concerns and children's development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Rearing*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Development*
  • Socialization