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

ABSTRACT Background:
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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    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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