Parental mental health and children's adjustment: The quality of marital interaction and parenting as mediating factors

Department of Clinical Medicine, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University, Finland.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 03/2003; 44(2):227-41. DOI: 10.1111/1469-7610.t01-1-00116
Source: PubMed


Research has put emphasis on the process of transmission of mental-health problems from parents to children. This study examines the specificity of the interpersonal relationships mediating these symptoms.
Information about parent and child mental health, marital interaction, and parenting was received from 527 mothers and fathers. Information about child mental health was also received from their 12-year-old children (260 girls and 267 boys).
The results confirm that parental mental-health problems can compromise a mother's and father's parenting abilities and represent a threat to their children's adjustment. The results suggest that the different types of parental mental-health problems initiate specific paths between parental and child mental-health problems. The results also reveal examples of how the mediation may depend on both the parents' and the children's gender.
The results further suggest that opposite-sex parenting is important to children's adjustment during the years of early adolescence. Keywords: Child development, epidemiology, gender, marital relationships, mental health, parenting.

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    • "Contrary to Belsky's model and previous research (e.g. Leinonen et al., 2003; Westbrook & Harden, 2010) and as discussed later, no mediation effects occurred through the perceived parent–infant relationship or observed parent–infant interaction between the couple's relationship and infant development. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the current study was to examine whether parental mental health, parent–infant relationship, infant characteristics and couple's relationship factors were associated with the infant's development. Forty-two families took part at three time points. The first, at 3 months postpartum, involved a video recorded observation (CARE-index) of parent–infant interactions. At 5 months postpartum, in-depth clinical interviews (the Birmingham Interview of Maternal Mental Health) assessed parental mental health and parental perceptions of their relationship with their infant, their partner and their infant's characteristics. Finally, the Bayley Scales III was carried out 17 months postpartum to assess the infants' cognitive, language and motor development. A higher mother–infant relationship quality was significantly associated with more optimal language development, whilst a higher father–infant relationship quality was associated with more advanced motor development. Additionally, maternal postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder had a negative impact on the infant's cognitive development, whilst maternal prenatal depression was associated with a less optimal infant's language development. The largest prediction was afforded by parental perceptions of their infant's characteristics. The findings indicate that such perceptions may be crucial for the infant's development and imply that negative internal parental perceptions should be considered when assessing risk factors or designing interventions to prevent negative child outcomes. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Infant and Child Development 07/2014; 23(4). DOI:10.1002/icd.1830 · 1.20 Impact Factor
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    • "Family factors such as parent–child interaction and family environment may explain, at least to some extent, the effect of parental mental illness on internalizing and externalizing problems. Interpersonal relationships within the family have been found to have a mediating function in the parent-adolescent transmission of psychological problems (e.g., Davies and Windle 1997; Leinonen et al. 2003). Parents suffering from a mental illness often have problems interacting with their child; they are for example less positive and more critical of their child (Oyserman et al. 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Children of parents with a mental illness are often found to be at high risk of developing psychological problems themselves. Little is known about the role of family factors in the relation between parental and adolescent mental health. The current study focused on parent-child interaction and family environment. This cross-sectional questionnaire study included 124 families with a mentally ill parent and 127 families without a mentally ill parent who at the time of the study had children aged 11-16 years old. Parents completed questionnaires about their mental health, parent-child interaction (i.e., parental monitoring and parental support), and family environment (i.e., cohesion, expressiveness, and conflict). Adolescents reported their internalizing and externalizing problems. Path analyses were used to examine the direct associations between parental mental illness and adolescent problems as well as the indirect relations via parent-child interaction and family environment. The results showed that interaction between parents with a mental illness and their child was significantly worse compared to parents without a mental illness. The family environment of parents with mental illness was also more negative. Mentally ill parents monitored their adolescents less, which in turn related to more externalizing problems of the adolescents. No factors mediated the relation between parental mental health and adolescent internalizing problems. Moreover, no direct effects of parental support, family cohesion, and family expressiveness with externalizing problems were found. These findings imply that parental monitoring should get a specific focus of attention in existing interventions designed to prevent adolescents with a mentally ill parent from developing problems.
    10/2013; 23(7):1-14. DOI:10.1007/s10826-013-9781-7
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    • "In another review of studies including children from birth to 11 years of age, PPD persisted in producing a negative effect on children's development even controlling for continuous or late-onset (i.e. after postpartum period) depression, although the size of the effect diminished (Beck, 1998). Studies examining the influence of late-onset maternal depression on children's health and development found that maternal depressive symptoms measured in adolescence predict poor school performance and poor peer relationships for males (Leinonen et al., 2003), more depressive symptoms in 15-to 16-year old females (Fergusson, Horwood, & Lynskey, 1995) and more depressive symptoms, conduct problems, and academic difficulties for 17-to 18-year old females (Davies & Windle, 1997). A recent longitudinal study (N = 2,427) found that continuous, rather than late-onset, depression predicted behavioral problems in children; however, the influences of parenting and family functioning were not examined (Turney, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Analysis of data from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth reveals that 6% of children are born to mothers who experienced symptoms of depression during their first 2years of life. The prevalence rises steadily until children are 10years of age when it reaches 9%, and thereafter remains relatively stable. Children of depressed mothers are at increased risk of having low receptive vocabulary and displaying inattention or physical aggression at ages 4 to 5years, only partially attributable to family demographic factors, family functioning and parenting qualities. Maternal depression occurring when the child was 2 to 3years of age, was a risk factor for anxiety in 10 and 11year olds. Timing or duration of maternal depression had no effect on math achievement. The risk of poor child outcome was greatest for mothers who experienced depression continuously or when their child was 2 to 3years or older. Nurses need to assess and intervene to reduce the impact of depression on mothers and their children's development, well beyond the postpartum period.
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