Parental depression is linked to a myriad of child adjustment outcomes. To identify the potential processes between parents’ depressive symptoms and child adjustment in early childhood, this cross-sectional study investigated mindful parenting and children’s self-regulation as mediators.
Participants were 320 Chinese families involving maritally intact mothers, fathers, and children (49.01% girls) from 34.73 to 55.66 months old (M = 46.32, SD = 3.77). Mothers and fathers completed self-report questionnaires assessing parental depressive symptoms, mindful parenting, children’s self-regulation, and adjustment outcomes. Children completed a task assessing their self-regulation. A structural equation model was conducted to examine the mediation model cross-sectionally.
The structural equation model indicated that mindful parenting and children’s self-regulation mediated the association between parents’ depressive symptoms and children’s adjustment. Specifically, mothers’ and fathers’ depressive symptoms were associated with their own, but not their spouses’, mindful parenting. Mindful parenting was then associated with children’s self-regulation, which was related to internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and prosocial behavior. Differential findings as a function of parents’ gender were also indicated.
The present study revealed mindful parenting and children’s self-regulation as mediators between parental depressive symptoms and adjustment in early childhood. Both mothers’ and fathers’ depressive symptoms were associated with mindful parenting, which was crucial for children’s self-regulation, psychosocial adjustment, and behavioral adjustment. These findings inform practitioners about the relevance of parents’ depressive symptoms and mindful parenting to children’s adjustment in early childhood.