Four Months After the Storm

Consistent with prior research, we found relations between mothers' and children's behavior in the conversations. The relations were stronger in the context of the tornado conversations than in the conversations about the nontraumatic events. The indices that are most defining of maternal style are the number of elaborations mothers make, the number of repetitions they produce, and the ratio of elaborations to repetitions (e.g., Fivush & Fromhoff, 1988; Reese et al., 1993). As might be expected, given the greater length of the tornado conversations, mothers provided more elaborations and more repetitions when engaged in conversations about the tornado relative to the nontraumatic events. However, with the total number of maternal utterances controlled statistically, there were not differences between the event types. Moreover, the ratio of elaborations to repetitions did not differ between the traumatic and nontraumatic events (M elaboration ratios at Session 1 = 7.99 and 8.65, respectively). Thus, mothers were equally elaborative and repetitive in their conversations about the two event types. In addition, mothers who were relatively more elaborative in conversations about the tornado also were relatively more elaborative in conversations about the nontraumatic events (correlations between the two event types were in the range of 0.54 to 0.80).

As reflected in Figure 6.2, mothers who were relatively more elabora-tive had children who were more participatory in conversations about both types of events. That is, mothers who produced a higher ratio of elaborations to repetitions had children who contributed larger numbers of propositions relative to children whose mothers were less elaborative. The relation was especially strong in the context of the tornado conversations. Maternal style was also related to the amount of unique content the children provided, especially in the context of conversations about the tornado. In the tornado conversations, children of more elaborative mothers provided more total unique content, and also more unique content in each of the

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S1-Part S1-Cont S2-Part S2-Cont figure 6.2. The strength of concurrent correlations (Pearson's r) between mothers and their children at Sessions 1 and 2 in terms of participation in the conversations ("Part") and the amount of unique content provided ("Cont"). Asterisks indicate that the correlation was statistically significant.

individual categories, relative to children of less elaborative mothers. Thus, to their conversations about the tornado, the children of more elaborative mothers contributed more orientations to the physical setting of the event, more descriptions of the activities that took place, and more temporal and causal connections. The children also contributed more information about how they (and others) thought and felt about the tornado (see Bauer et al., in press, for details). The relations were observed even though conversational length was controlled statistically. Overall, the pattern of concurrent relations between maternal behavior and child behavior were stronger for the tornado relative to the nontraumatic events.

Ten Months After the Storm

As was the case 4 months after the storm, 10 months later mothers were equally elaborative and repetitive in their conversations about the storm and the nontraumatic events. Unlike in Session 1, at Session 2 there were not strong relations between mothers' and children's participation in the conversations, and relations between mothers' behavior and the amount of unique content the children provided were only observed for the nontraumatic events. Specifically, with the total number of maternal utterances controlled statistically, there were not significant differences in the number of elaborations and repetitions mothers provided in their conversations about the tornado relative to the nontraumatic events. Nor were there differences in the ratio of elaborations to repetitions between the event types (M elaboration ratios for tornado and nontraumatic events at Session 2 = 7.89 and 7.41, respectively). Mothers who were relatively more elaborative in conversations about the tornado also were relatively more elaborative in conversations about the nontraumatic events (correlations between the two event types were in the range of 0.53 to 0.70).

At Session 2, relative to Session 1, measures of children's overall participation in the conversations were less strongly related to maternal style. As reflected in Figure 6.2, neither correlation reached the level of statistical significance. Nor was there a relation between maternal behavior and the amount of unique content the children provided about the tornado. For the nontraumatic events, however, the children of more elaborative mothers provided more unique content relative to children of less elabo-rative mothers. In their conversations about the nontraumatic events, the children of more elaborative mothers contributed more orientations to the physical setting, more descriptions of the activities that took place, and more temporal and causal connections (see Bauer et al., in press, for details). The weaker pattern of relation for the tornado relative to the nontraumatic events at Session 2 is the opposite of the pattern observed at Session 1. It is likely that differences in the patterns of relation from Session 1 to Session 2 for the mothers relative to the children, discussed in the next section, contributed to the relatively low degree of correlation observed at Session 2.

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