Children’s Internalizing, Externalizing, Sexualized Behavior, and Social Competence as Predicted by Maternal Level of Depression: Are These Associations Moderated by Child Sex and Mothers’ History of Sexual Abuse?
Type of Degreethesis
DepartmentHuman Development and Family Studies
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Maternal depression is often related to child functioning, including child internalizing, externalizing, and sexualized behavior, as well as child social competence. However, little research has investigated how child sex and mothers’ history of sexual abuse can affect the influence of maternal depression on these outcomes. The purpose of this study is to examine how maternal depression affects the internalizing, externalizing, and sexualized behavior of their children at four years of age, as well as child social competence at child age 8. Additionally, this study examines whether these relationships differ according to child sex and mothers’ history of sexual abuse. This study examines 820 children and mothers in a high-risk sample. We found that maternal depression is more predictive of child internalizing, externalizing, and sexualized behavior in children whose mothers have a history of sexual abuse than those who do not. Furthermore, the relationship between mothers’ depression and child internalizing, externalizing, and sexualized behavior is strongest for sons of mothers with a history of sexual abuse. Our results indicate that mothers’ depression is related to child behavioral and emotional adjustment and that child sex and mothers’ history of sexual abuse do moderate these relationships.
- Raven A. Pyle Thesis_Graduate School.pdf