Human evolution and culture in relationship to shame in the parenting role: Implications for psychology and psychotherapy
AffiliationUniversity of Queensland
University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Family Action Centre, The University of Newcastle, Australia
University of Derby
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AbstractThere is considerable evidence that early parenting has profound effects on a range of physiological and psychological maturation processes. Furthermore, psychotherapy often addresses some of the distortions and developmental difficulties that have arisen from early childhood. While research has focused on obvious candidates such as abuse and neglect, this paper reviews some of the core themes related to a less investigated area, specifically parental shame on child development. Role shame sensitive parenting styles will be explored against an evolutionary background that contrasts early human and modern human rearing contexts. We also outline a study examining the role of shame in psychological controlling and dysfunctional parenting styles, its relationship to different dimensions of shame and fears of compassion. An online survey was conducted containing self‐report measures of dysfunctional parenting styles, three dimensions of shame (external, internal, and reflected), fears of compassion, mental health indices, and a measure of psychological flexibility. An online survey was accessed by 333 parents (306 being female) with a child between the ages of 3–9 years. Two hierarchical multiple regressions indicated support for our two primary hypotheses, with shame explaining significant variance in both psychological controlling and dysfunctional parenting styles over and above that explained by psychological inflexibility, parental mental health, and fears of compassion. Additionally, results from standard multiple regressions indicated that fears of compassion account for significant variance in external shame, as well as internal and reflected shame. Recommendations for future research include focusing on parental motivation in order to help support parents and children are provided. Shame is a major factor for how parents engage in parenting practices and respond to their children. Practitioners need to be sensitive to the shame parents can experience and asses for it Assessing shame‐threat in parenting and shifting to compassionate motivation can lead to more responsive and positive parenting.
CitationKirby, J.N., Sampson, H., Day, J., Hayes, A. & Gilbert, P. (2019). 'Human evolution and culture in relationship to shame in the parenting role: Implications for psychology and psychotherapy'. Psychology & Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 92 (2), pp. 238-260. DOI: 10.1111/papt.12223.
PublisherWiley Online Library
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
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