Role of maternal childhood trauma on parenting among depressed mothers of psychiatrically ill children

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.41). 09/2013; 30(9). DOI: 10.1002/da.22116
Source: PubMed


Independently, maternal depression and maternal history of childhood abuse confer risk for impaired parenting. These associations may be compounded when depressed mothers with histories of childhood abuse are faced with the challenge of parenting offspring who themselves struggle with mental health problems. This study examined the relationships among maternal history of childhood abuse, maternal depression, and parenting style in the context of parenting a psychiatrically ill child, with an emphasis on examining maternal emotional abuse and neglect. We hypothesized that maternal childhood emotional abuse would be associated with maladaptive parenting strategies (lower levels of maternal acceptance and higher levels of psychological control), independent of maternal depression severity and other psychosocial risk factors.

Ninety-five mother-child dyads (children ages 7-18) were recruited from child mental health centers where children were receiving treatment for at least one internalizing disorder. Participating mothers met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder. Mothers reported on their own childhood abuse histories and children reported on their mothers' parenting.

Regression analyses demonstrated that maternal childhood emotional abuse was associated with child reports of lower maternal acceptance and greater psychological control, controlling for maternal depression severity, and other psychosocial risk factors.

When treating psychiatrically ill children, it is important for a child's clinician to consider mothers' childhood abuse histories in addition to their history of depression. These mothers appear to have additional barriers to effective parenting.

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    • "In particular, anomalies in neural processing of reward and threat have been associated with depression (Zhang et al., 2013), suggesting that these biologic processes may constitute key elements in depression transmission across generations. Parental capacity to enjoy the rewarding aspects and manage the difficult aspects of parenting may be attenuated by parental depression (Zalewski et al., 2013). Depressed individuals show blunted ventral striatal (VS) activation in response to positive stimuli (Zhang et al., 2013), suggesting diminished pleasure in response to reward, and heightened response in the amygdala and insula to negative stimuli (Hamilton et al., 2012), indicating heightened negative affect in response to threatening stimuli. "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal depression is associated with negative outcomes for offspring, including increased incidence of child psychopathology. Quality of mother-child relationships can be compromised among affectively ill dyads, such as those characterized by maternal depression and child psychopathology, and negatively impact outcomes bidirectionally. Little is known about the neural mechanisms that may modulate depressed mothers' responses to their psychiatrically ill children during middle childhood and adolescence, partially because of a need for ecologically valid personally relevant fMRI tasks that might most effectively elicit these neural mechanisms. The current project evaluated maternal response to child positive and negative affective video clips in 19 depressed mothers with psychiatrically ill offspring using a novel fMRI task. The task elicited activation in the ventral striatum when mothers viewed positive clips and insula when mothers viewed negative clips of their own (versus unfamiliar) children. Both types of clips elicited activation in regions associated with affect regulation and self-related and social processing. Greater lifetime number of depressive episodes, comorbid anxiety, and poor mother-child relationship quality all emerged as predictors of maternal response to child affect. Findings may be specific to dyads with psychiatrically ill children. Altered neural response to child affect may be an important characteristic of chronic maternal depression and may impact mother-child relationships negatively. Existing interventions for depression may be improved by helping mothers respond to their children's affect more adaptively. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 08/2015; 187:106-113. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2015.07.043 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the evidence concerning the association between reported maternal childhood experience of emotional abuse and/or neglect and subsequent parenting outcomes. Relevant studies were identified through a systematic search of four electronic databases using a pre-determined keyword search. Reference lists of included papers were reviewed and key authors in the field contacted to ascertain whether other papers were available. Twelve studies which met our eligibility criteria were included for review. Tentative support was found for a relationship between maternal childhood emotionally abusive/neglectful experiences and a range of adverse parenting outcomes, including increased parenting stress and maltreatment potential, lower empathy and greater psychological control. However, limitations within the research (e.g. small sample sizes, retrospective designs) reduce the confidence with which we can draw firm conclusions. Recommendations are offered for future research together with an outline of clinical implications arising from this review. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.‘Twelve studies which met our eligibility criteria were included for review’Key Practitioner MessagesThere is tentative evidence that maternal childhood experience of emotional abuse/neglect may be associated with subsequent deficits in parenting.Maternal childhood experiences of being parented should be considered when attempting to make sense of children's difficulties and/or problems in the parent-child relationship.Further research is required to explore these relationships and to build on our knowledge about contextual risk and protective factors.‘Maternal childhood experiences of being parented should be considered’
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