Psychological maltreatment is an under-recognized problem, even though it is a widespread form of child maltreatment and has detrimental consequences, whether in the short or long term. This study aims to explore the intergenerational patterns of parenting behaviors, measure the difference in emotionally abusive behaviors between mothers and fathers, investigate the relationship between childhood emotional abuse and adopting different parenting styles, and identify the protective factors against parental psychological maltreatment. A mixed-methods approach was used to answer these research questions thoroughly. Online versions of the survey, in English and Arabic, were shared on social media platforms, and online interviews were conducted in Arabic on the Zoom platform. The studied sample included 128 participants (95 females and 33 males). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight positive deviants (five mothers and three fathers) to explore the factors that helped them adopt a more positive parenting approach than how they were raised during their childhood. The survey analysis showed that around half of the sample experienced moderate to severe emotional abuse during childhood and indicated no significant difference in emotionally abusive behaviors between the participants’ fathers and mothers. Results also indicated that more than half of the participants decided to parent their children differently. Various protective factors emerged from the interview discussions, including self-awareness, resilience, positive reframing, stress-coping skills, spiritual relationship, intimate partner support, social support, and community services. Prevention efforts are needed to empower and support parents to eliminate parental psychological maltreatment.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Psychology Department

Degree Name

MA in Community Psychology

Graduation Date

Summer 6-15-2023

Submission Date


First Advisor

Carie Forden

Committee Member 1

Heba Kotb

Committee Member 2

Sarah Dababnah


106 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item