Adolescent Motherhood: Understanding the Link Between Maternal Depression, Parenting, and Child Maltreatment.
Abstract: The present study examined the longitudinal trajectories of maternal
depression among 508 young mothers who participated in an evaluation of a state-wide home
visiting program for first-time mothers under age 21 across the first two years of
parenting to answer the following questions: 1) does the rate of child maltreatment vary
across different depression trajectory profiles?; 2) ... read moredoes early parenting predict the rate
of child maltreatment, with different associations across multiple depression
trajectories?; and 3) do three selected protective factors: (a) mother's cognitive ability
to mentalize her child's mental states, (b) the quality of the relationship with the father
of the baby, and (c) her participation in a home visitation program, promote positive early
parenting, with different effects across different depression trajectories? Five viable
maternal depression trajectories were found using Growth Mixture Modeling, and multiple
group path analyses revealed that although the number of child maltreatment reports was
similar across depression trajectories, early positive parenting was related to fewer
number of child maltreatment reports filed after children were about a year old for
chronically depressed mothers. Longer duration, frequent receipt of home visits, and
younger child age were associated with less optimal parenting. Previous child maltreatment
reports filed also were significantly associated with parenting and child maltreatment
reports filed after children were about a year old. The findings suggest heterogeneity in
the experience of maternal depression among young mothers, and early promotion of positive
parenting may be the key to preventing child maltreatment among the most vulnerable group
of young mothers. The implications for research, policy, and practice are
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2015.
Submitted to the Dept. of Child Development.
Advisor: M Easterbrooks.
Committee: Francine Jacobs, Xiaodong Liu, and Catherine Ayoub.
Keyword: Developmental psychology.read less