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17-09-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2018

Exploring the Relationships Between Maternal Mental Health Symptoms and Young Children’s Functioning in a Low-Income, Minority Sample

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2018
Auteurs:
Abigail Palmer Molina, Sonya Negriff, William Monro, Ferol E. Mennen

Abstract

Poor maternal mental health, including depression and high stress levels, can negatively impact many domains of child development, particularly among low-income, ethnic minority families experiencing multiple stressors. Low-income minority mothers, particularly Hispanic mothers, are also at increased risk of experiencing exposure to community violence and other types of trauma. However, studies exploring the additional impact of maternal trauma symptoms on children’s functioning are rare. This study aims to address this gap by examining the impact of maternal trauma symptoms on young children’s functioning in a low-income, predominantly Hispanic sample through the mechanisms of maternal depressive symptoms, and mother’s experiences of parenting stress and strain. The sample consisted of 158 biological mothers (58% Hispanic, 13% African American, 5.7% White American) who were participating in community-based mental health treatment for their children (MAGE = 3.7, SD = 1.2). Mothers completed questionnaires providing information on their children’s behaviors and their own mental health and stress levels at intake. Path analysis indicated that there was a significant indirect effect of maternal trauma symptoms on children’s behavior problems through maternal depressive symptoms and maternal stress in the parent-child relationship (β = 0.09, p < 0.01). In addition, there was a direct effect of maternal trauma symptoms on children’s behavior problems (β = 0.32, p < 0.001). The results suggest that maternal trauma symptoms, in addition to maternal depressive symptoms, contribute to poor maternal and child functioning.

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