LOSS OF A PARENT, EMPATHIC CAPACITY AND PARENTING BEHAVIOR (PREGNANCY, ADOLESCENCE, MOTHERING)
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A study was undertaken to explore the relationship between the experience of loss of a parent, empathic capacity and mothering behavior. The psychoanalytic literature, as well as previous research, suggested that the loss of a parent during childhood might have numerous effects upon late behavior. Based upon the literature in this area, the hypothesis that the early loss of a parent would interfere with the development of empathic capacity and with behavior as a parent was tested. Second, and with greater success, a hypothesis concerning the association between empathic capacity and parenting behavior was tested.;Multiple regression analysis was employed to compare subjects who had experienced the loss of a parent to subjects who had not experienced the loss. As defined in this study, loss did not appear to affect either empathic capacity or parenting behavior. A discussion of the ambiguity and subtleties associated with the concept of loss is included. Suggestions for future research, more accurately reflecting the experience of loss in the black population, are also included.;Multiple regression analysis was also employed to test the hypothesis that subjects with greater empathic capacity would have better parenting skills. The results of the analysis suggested that there does appear to be an association between empathy and parenting skills. Differences in the patterns of association between empathy and parenting are noted in terms of how the various questionnaires define empathy. Finally, the conceptualization of empathy as a complex construct including affective as well as cognitive components is endorsed.