Parental bonding memories, adult attachment, interpersonal problems, and perceptions of maternal depression

Bethany Dawn Aaronson, Fordham University

Abstract

Effects of maternal depression on infants and children have been widely studied, but there has been little attention given to the enduring impact of maternal depression on adult children. This study examined the unique experiences of adult children who identified their mothers as suffering from depression in relation to parental bonding memories, dimensions of adult attachment, and interpersonal problems. Participants were young adults (18 to 35 years old) raised by their biological mothers for at least the first 16 years of life and have had at least one romantic relationship. Approximately half of the sample consisted of individuals who identified their mothers as having suffered from depression throughout their early years of life (e.g., the first 3 to 5 years of life; the maternal depression group). The other half of the sample consisted of individuals who did not identify their mothers as having suffered from depression at any time during their early years (the comparison group). The sample consisted of relatively equal numbers of male and female participants in the maternal depression group and the comparison group, enabling testing for gender differences. Survey responses were gathered via the internet. Maternal depression status, gender, and their interaction were hypothesized to have significant effects on parental bonding memories, adult attachment, and self-reported interpersonal problems. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to test for these effects. These analyses revealed significant main effects for maternal depression status and gender but did not reveal a significant interaction effect. Specifically, participants in the maternal depression group reported parental bonding memories that were lower in “Care” than participants in the comparison group. The maternal depression group also reported significantly more Attachment Anxiety, Attachment Avoidance, and problems in the Hostile quadrant and the Friendly-Dominant quadrant of the interpersonal circumplex (IPC) versus the comparison group. Men reported significantly more problems in the Domineering and Vindictive octants of the IPC when compared to women. The current study has taken an important beginning step in helping clinicians understand the enduring impact of being raised by a mother suffering from depression on adult children's attachment experiences and interpersonal problems.^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Aaronson, Bethany Dawn, "Parental bonding memories, adult attachment, interpersonal problems, and perceptions of maternal depression" (2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3373822.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3373822

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