The impact of parental differentiation of self on positive family functioning

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Marilyn J. Montgomery

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William M. Kurtines

Third Advisor's Name

Mary J. Levitt

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the impact of parental differentiation of self (less emotional reactivity, cutoff, fusion with others, and greater I position) on positive family functioning (family cohesion, adaptability, conflict and child attachment to mother). The participants included 47 mothers and their children between 5 and 13 years old who sought developmental assessment at the Youth and Family Developmental Program (YFDP) laboratory at Florida International University. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that less emotional reactivity predicted more family cohesion and adaptability, less emotional cutoff predicted more family cohesion, adaptability and less conflict, more fusion with others predicted more family cohesion and child attachment to mother, and greater I position predicted less family conflict. This study provides further support for parental influence on the family environment. Study results indicate that services for targeting families should target the parental differentiation of self as an influential factor for family functioning.



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