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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    • "However, parenting styles, marital relationships, and parent–child interactions are negatively affected by poor parent mental health (seeLovejoy et al., 2000, for a review) and may be as influential as genetics because of social learning. For example, in one study of 527 mothers and fathers of 12-year-old children, increased parental anxiety, depression, and social dysfunction were associated with higher levels of punitive parenting, lower levels of authoritative parenting, and less parent involvement (Leinonen, Solantaus, & Punamaki, 2003). The increased stress caused by conflict ridden parenting styles, poor marital relationships , and dysfunctional parent–child interactions contribute to the decreased mental health functioning of the children of depressed and anxious parents. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to examine if family system dynamics (e.g., parent mental health, marriage quality, conflict, and cohesion) that have often been overlooked when studying Latino families play a more important role in predicting adolescent internalizing symptoms than acculturation processes. Data comes from the Latino Acculturation and Health Project, a longitudinal investigation of acculturation in Latino families in North Carolina and Arizona (Smokowski & Bacallao, 2006, 2010). Researchers conducted in-depth, community-based interviews with 258 Latino adolescents and 258 of their parents in metropolitan, small-town, and rural areas. Interviews were conducted at four time points at intervals of approximately 6 months. Parent and adolescent ratings of the adolescent's internalizing symptoms were used as the dependent variable in a longitudinal hierarchical linear model with a rater effects structure. Results showed that parent-adolescent conflict and parent mental health (fear/avoidance of social situations and humiliation sensitivity) were significant predictors of adolescent internalizing symptoms. Acculturation scales were not significant predictors; however, internalizing symptoms decreased with time spent in the United States. Females and adolescents from lower socioeconomic status families reported more internalizing symptoms, while participants who had been in the United States longer reported fewer internalizing symptoms. Implications were discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Development and Psychopathology
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Infant and Child Development
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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.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013
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