Parental Depressive Symptoms and Adolescent Adjustment: Responses to Children's Distress and Representations of Attachment as Explanatory Mechanisms

E. Mark Cummings, Melissa R.W. George, Kalsea J. Koss, Patrick T. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective. This study seeks to extend the investigation of parenting as an explanatory mechanism for relations between parental depressive symptoms and adolescent adjustment in the context of a four-wave longitudinal study. Design. Participants were cohabiting parents and their 320 children (156 boys, 164 girls). Parental depressive symptoms were assessed in kindergarten (T1), parental negative response to children's emotional distress in 1st grade (T2), children's representations of attachment with parents in 2nd grade (T3), and adolescent adjustment in 7th grade (T4). Results. Multiple pathways were identified in predicting adolescent conduct problems, including links involving (1) mothers' depressive symptoms, mothers' negative responses to children's distress and insecure father-child attachment representations; (2) fathers' depressive symptoms and insecure father-child attachment representations; and (3) fathers' depressive symptoms and negative responses to children's distress. A pathway was also found among mothers' depressive symptoms, mothers' negative responses to children's distress, insecure mother-child attachment representations, and peer problems in adolescence. Conclusion. The findings support a role of parents' negative responses to children's distress and representations of father-child and mother-child attachment in relations between children's early experience with parental depressive symptoms and socioemotional outcomes in early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-232
Number of pages20
JournalParenting
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (R01 MH57318) awarded to Patrick T. Davies and E. Mark Cummings. We are grateful to the children, parents, and teachers who participated in this project. We express our appreciation to project staff and students at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Rochester. We are grateful to Scott Maxwell for his generous statistical consultation.

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