Romantic functioning mediates prospective associations between childhood abuse and neglect and parenting outcomes in adulthood

Madelyn H. Labella, K. Lee Raby, Jodi Martin, Glenn I. Roisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Research suggests intergenerational links between childhood abuse and neglect and subsequent parenting quality, but little is known about the potential mechanisms underlying intergenerational continuities in parenting. Adult romantic functioning may be one plausible mechanism, given its documented associations with both adverse caregiving in childhood and parenting quality in adulthood. The present study used data from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation to (a) investigate prospective associations between childhood experiences of abuse and neglect and multiple parenting outcomes in adulthood, and (b) evaluate the degree to which adult romantic functioning mediates those associations. Information regarding childhood abuse and neglect was gathered prospectively from birth through age 17.5 years. Multimethod assessments of romantic functioning were collected repeatedly through early adulthood (ages 20 to 32 years), and parenting quality was assessed as participants assumed a parenting role (ages 21 to 38 years). As expected, childhood abuse and neglect experiences predicted less supportive parenting (observed and interview rated) and higher likelihood of self-reported Child Protective Services involvement. The association with interview-rated supportive parenting was partially mediated by lower romantic competence, whereas the association with Child Protective Services involvement was partially mediated by more relational violence in adult romantic relationships. Implications of these novel prospective findings for research and clinical intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-111
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2019

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Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2019.


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