The primary aim of the current study was to examine self-criticism as a potential mechanism mediating the relation between mothers’ own childhood maltreatment history and changes in subsequent maternal efficacy beliefs in a diverse sample of low-income mothers with and without major depressive disorder. Longitudinal data were drawn from a larger randomized clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of interpersonal psychotherapy for depression among low-income mothers and their 12-month-old infant. Results indicated that higher levels of maltreatment in childhood led mothers to hold more self-critical judgments in adulthood. Additionally, mothers who had experienced more extensive childhood maltreatment histories perceived themselves as less efficacious in their role as mother. Structural equation modeling indicated that self-criticism mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and mothers’ decreased perceived competency in her maternal role from when her child was an infant to the more demanding toddler years. Finally, this relationship held over and above the influence of mothers’ depressive diagnostic status. Directions for future research and the clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank all of the participating families as well as the hard-working research assistants for their contributions to this work. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Funding The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: We acknowledge and greatly appreciate the funding support of this research by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH67792) and the Spunk Fund, Inc.
- childhood maltreatment
- maternal efficacy