Maternal Depression, Child Temperament, and Risk for Depression in Adolescence: A Test of the Differential Susceptibility Hypothesis
This study examined the relationship between maternal depression, child temperament, and maternal parenting. Maternal depression has many effects on perceptions of and reactions to everyday interactions with the child (Belsky et al, 2007). Evidence has been found for depressed mothers reporting negative child behavior, while teachers report positive or neutral behavior in children of depressed mothers. Depression may skew a mother's understanding of her child's behavior. On the other hand, a child's difficult temperament may be especially challenging for a depressed mother. The depression, in combination with child difficult temperament, may cause changes in parenting styles that put the child at a greater risk for depression. The purpose of this study was to examine whether links between maternal depression and maternal parenting vary according to child difficult temperament. The identification of risk factors, such as difficult temperament or maternal depression, is important when trying to develop effective intervention strategies. It was predicted that maternal depression would be more strongly predictive of parenting deficits for mothers of children with a difficult temperament. This study used previously collected longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of mothers and their offspring. Maternal depression before the birth of their child was measured using the CESD. Mothers reported on their children’s temperament between 1 and 23 months of age. Maternal parenting was assessed when children were between 3 and 5 years of age using a combination of an interview and observer ratings. Maternal depression showed a trend level association with decreased responsiveness (Beta = -.16, p = .076), and showed a significant association with increased harsh parenting (Beta = .15, p = .047) and decreased learning stimulation (Beta = -.14, p = .002). Fussy temperament did not moderate associations between maternal depression and parenting. These findings suggest that maternal depression is a risk factor for parenting characteristics that are associated with negative child outcomes, but that difficult temperament does not affect these associations.
Jackson A Goodnight
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium poster
"Maternal Depression, Child Temperament, and Risk for Depression in Adolescence: A Test of the Differential Susceptibility Hypothesis" (2019). Stander Symposium Posters. 1603.