Beyond “Lots of Hugs and Kisses”: Expressions of Parental Love From Parents and Their Young Children in Two-Parent, Financially Stable Families

Allen K. Sabey*, Amy J. Rauer, Megan L. Haselschwerdt, Brenda Volling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Given that parental love is essential for children's optimal development, the current study gathered examples of how parental love was demonstrated within parent–child relationships. Fifty-eight two-parent, financially stable families consisting of a mother, father, and young child (3–7 years old) from the Midwest were interviewed regarding how they demonstrated or perceived parental love. Results from an inductive thematic analysis revealed considerable variability in how parental love was demonstrated, with five themes emerging that overlapped between parents and their children: playing or doing activities together, demonstrating affection, creating structure, helping or supporting, and giving gifts or treats. Some gendered patterns among these themes were found with mothers emphasizing physical and verbal affection and fathers highlighting their more prominent role as playmates. The lay examples provided by parents and children in this exploratory study extend previous conceptualizations of parental love and underscore the importance of parents being attuned and responsive to the specific needs of their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-751
Number of pages15
JournalFamily process
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Love
  • Parenting
  • Parent–Child Relationships
  • Qualitative Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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