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01-10-2013 | Original Paper | Uitgave 7/2013

Journal of Child and Family Studies 7/2013

Maternal Avoidant Coping Mediates the Effect of Parenting Stress on Depressive Symptoms during Early Adolescence

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 7/2013
Auteurs:
Christine M. Steeger, Dawn M. Gondoli, Rebecca A. Morrissey

Abstract

We examined maternal avoidant coping as a mediator between maternal parenting stress and maternal depressive symptoms during early adolescence. Three years of self-report data were collected from 173 mothers, beginning when mothers’ adolescents were in 6th grade and aged 11–13 years. Utilizing longitudinal path analysis, results indicated that avoidant coping at time two mediated the association between parenting stress at time one and depressive symptoms at time three. Additionally, the reverse direction of effects was examined, revealing that the relation between parenting stress and avoidant coping was unidirectional, while the relation between avoidant coping and depressive symptoms was bidirectional. Our results suggest that during early adolescence, mothers who experience more stress in the parenting role are more likely to engage in higher levels of avoidant coping when faced with parenting problems. In turn, a mother’s long-term avoidant reactions to parenting problems may predict increases in depressive symptoms. Moreover, our findings of a bidirectional relation between avoidant coping and depressive symptoms suggest that prior levels of depression might serve as a barrier to efficient and effective coping. The present study may inform preventive intervention efforts aimed at decreasing the use of avoidance in response to parenting stressors by increasing adaptive parental coping with stressors, and providing appropriate support and resources for parents.

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