Parenting in Israel amid COVID-19: the Protective Role of Mentalization and Emotion Regulation

Racheli Cohen, Nada Yassin, Naama Gershy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The global COVID-19 pandemic changed the life of numerous parents. The medical worry, the financial hardship, and the need to take care of children 24/7 caused an enormous burden on parenting, resulting in an elevation in parenting stress and in harsh parenting. In the current study, we were interested in assessing the role of parental emotion regulation and parental mentalization as resilience-promoting factors, by mitigating the harmful relationship between parental distress and negative and positive parenting. Seventy Israeli parents of children (aged 6–14) participated in the study. We assessed parental mentalization and emotion dysregulation before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the national lockdown in Israel in May 2020, we assessed parental distress, COVID-related financial risk, and parental practices. Results indicated elevations in parental distress compared to the population mean, alongside high rates of financial risk. The results indicated that although parental distress was significantly related to parenting practices, parental mentalization, and emotion regulation moderated these relationships in differential ways. Improved capacity for emotion regulation reduced the prevalence of negative parenting practices and higher parental mentalization increased the prevalence of positive parenting, these are despite elevation in parental distress. The results suggested that when parents are able to regulate their own negative emotions and think about a child’s mind, they can remain available to support the child’s needs despite the elevation in parental distress. Supporting parental capacity for mentalization and emotion regulation during stressful times may prevent the harmful consequences of parental distress on parenting.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)283-296
Number of pages14
JournalAdversity and Resilience Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • COVID-19
  • Distress
  • Emotion regulation
  • Mentalization
  • Parenting
  • Resilience


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