Department of Public Health Sciences

Childhood maltreatment, adult attachment, and depression as predictors of parental self-efficacy in at-risk mothers

Caldwell, J.G., Shaver, P.R., Li, C.S., and Minzenberg, M. J

Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma. 2011. 20(6):595-616.

Childhood abuse and neglect can have far-reaching effects on adult relationships, mental health, and parenting. This study examined relations between maltreatment types, anxious and avoidant adult attachment, maternal depression, and parental self-efficacy in a community sample of 76 at-risk mothers. After controlling for other forms of maltreatment, emotional abuse uniquely predicted higher levels of anxious attachment and maternal depression. Structural equation modeling revealed that childhood maltreatment predicted lower parental self-efficacy through indirect pathways involving anxious attachment and depression. Specifically, maltreatment's influence on maternal depression was mediated by attachment anxiety, while its influence on parental self-efficacy was mediated by depressive symptoms. Results are discussed in terms of attachment theory and ways in which parental self-efficacy contributes to adaptive caregiving behavior.

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