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30-07-2020 | Uitgave 4/2020

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 4/2020

Parenting as a Mediator of Associations between Depression in Mothers and Children’s Functioning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review > Uitgave 4/2020
Sherryl H. Goodman, Hannah F. M. Simon, Amanda L. Shamblaw, Christine Youngwon Kim
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A correction to this article is available online at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10567-020-00325-1.

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This paper responds to the need to understand mechanisms in the pathways of risk from depression in mothers to their children’s functioning. We systematically reviewed evidence in support of one often-proposed mediational model: that problematic parenting at least partially explains associations between mothers’ depression and children’s adverse functioning. We further aimed to understand the conceptual and method-based moderators. Eligible studies had to be published in English in a peer-reviewed journal, include data on mothers’ depression and parenting and child functioning, and have a study design whereby measurement of depression in mothers preceded the measurement of parenting, which preceded the measurement of child outcome. Overall, across the 40 papers (37 “studies”) that met our inclusion criteria, we found a significant, albeit small effect (r = .016), for the mediational model as a whole. This effect size was robust to context (poverty and ethnicity), children’s characteristics of age and gender, and parenting quality (positive or negative). The model was significant for multiple domains of child functioning, although effect sizes varied across domains. We also found support, with small effect sizes, for all three pathways in the mediational model and some support for moderation of those pathways. Overall, the findings provide empirical support for parenting (both positive and negative) as a mediator of associations between mothers’ depression and a broad range of child functioning and suggest that interventions should target samples that represent the population in terms of poverty and ethnicity and children’s gender, with priority going to interventions targeting the youngest children.

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