Morehead State University

Poster Title

Maternal Depression and Child Adjustment Among Families in Eastern Kentucky

Institution

Morehead State University

Abstract

Maternal depression is a considerable problem for America's families, with major implications for children's development. Among low-income families with young children, 30 to 40 percent of mothers experience significant depressive symptoms. For many of them, these symptoms have a deleterious effect on their parenting capabilities, particularly affecting sensitivity and consistency. Children's adjustment is likely to be affected such that children whose mothers are depressed are at risk for a range of social, emotional, and academic problems. This study seeks to explore how maternal depression influences children's adjustment, as well as what factors predict depression levels. Importantly, this study appears to fill a gap in the empirically-based knowledge of families and children in Eastern Kentucky. Preliminary data consists of 15 families of 4 year-old children. Preschoolers were chosen because it is a key developmental transition, with increasing separations at the same time children are expected to show growing independence and competence. Sample mothers were in their late twenties on average. Data collection involved taped interviews and questionnaires completed at the University. Approximately one-third of mothers were moderately depressed. Mothers with depressive symptoms tended to be more inconsistent in discipline and their children were more likely to have behavioral problems. Additionally, mothers with higher levels of depression tended to view their own upbringing as significantly less supportive, relative to non-depressed mothers. This data appears consistent with previous findings and may elucidate how best to prevent problems among children of depressed mothers in Eastern Kentucky.

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Maternal Depression and Child Adjustment Among Families in Eastern Kentucky

Maternal depression is a considerable problem for America's families, with major implications for children's development. Among low-income families with young children, 30 to 40 percent of mothers experience significant depressive symptoms. For many of them, these symptoms have a deleterious effect on their parenting capabilities, particularly affecting sensitivity and consistency. Children's adjustment is likely to be affected such that children whose mothers are depressed are at risk for a range of social, emotional, and academic problems. This study seeks to explore how maternal depression influences children's adjustment, as well as what factors predict depression levels. Importantly, this study appears to fill a gap in the empirically-based knowledge of families and children in Eastern Kentucky. Preliminary data consists of 15 families of 4 year-old children. Preschoolers were chosen because it is a key developmental transition, with increasing separations at the same time children are expected to show growing independence and competence. Sample mothers were in their late twenties on average. Data collection involved taped interviews and questionnaires completed at the University. Approximately one-third of mothers were moderately depressed. Mothers with depressive symptoms tended to be more inconsistent in discipline and their children were more likely to have behavioral problems. Additionally, mothers with higher levels of depression tended to view their own upbringing as significantly less supportive, relative to non-depressed mothers. This data appears consistent with previous findings and may elucidate how best to prevent problems among children of depressed mothers in Eastern Kentucky.