Pathways between Maternal Depression and Child Outcomes

Yu Yang, Fordham University

Abstract

Children of low-income single mothers with depression are more likely to have worse developmental outcomes than their more advantaged peers. This dissertation examines the associations between maternal depression and children’s behavioral and cognitive outcomes. Specifically, it investigates whether maternal depression is associated with child outcomes and parenting behaviors, and whether these associations, if any, vary by factors including father’s involvement, mother’s social support, and child’s gender. Moreover, it also examines whether parenting behaviors and mother-child engagement play significant mediating roles in the associations between maternal depression and child outcomes. Using the longitudinal data from the Fragile Family and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), the study conducts ordinary least squares (OLS) and cross-lagged regression models. The findings show that maternal depression is significantly and negatively associated with children’s behavior problems and parenting behaviors in both short and long terms. The associations of maternal depression with children’s social problems and mother’s psychological aggressive parenting behaviors vary significantly by father involvement. Social support buffers children from the negative impact of maternal depression on children’s social problems, while gender also plays a significant moderating role in the associations of maternal depression with children’s cognitive outcome and mothers’ psychological aggressive behaviors. Parenting behaviors (but not mother-child engagement) play a significant mediating role in the associations between maternal depression and child outcomes. The findings suggest that maternal depression has long-lasting negative effects on children’s behavioral and cognitive outcomes when they grow into adolescents. It is important to provide easy access and to expand insurance coverage to those low-income single mothers for screening services and treatments. Social work agencies should develop interventions for helping children and single low-income mothers suffering from maternal depression.

Subject Area

Social work|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Yang, Yu, "Pathways between Maternal Depression and Child Outcomes" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13879209.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI13879209

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