Lesson 6 of 7 - learn to parent effectively

Mother’s Depression when Kids are Young Linked to Risky Teen Behaviors.

By Shereen Lehman
Reuters, via Yahoo News

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/parent/news/depressed_moms.htm

Updated  04-18-2014

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This research supports the premise that low-nurturance early environments can promote life-long psychological injuries in young kids.  See my comments after the article. Links and hilights below are mine. - Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

+ + +

(Reuters Health) - Having a depressed mother during elementary or middle school raises the likelihood a child will engage in risky behaviors like drinking and smoking during the teen years, according to a new Canadian study.

Based on nearly 3,000 children followed since they were toddlers, the researchers also found that kids with depressed mothers in “middle childhood” were likely to start risky health behaviors earlier in their adolescence than other kids.

"Although there is a fairly good body of evidence suggesting that maternal depression is associated with depression in the child, there is a lot less about how maternal depression might influence adolescent behavior,” Ian Colman, the study’s senior author, told Reuters Health in an email.

“Given how prevalent maternal depression is, and that risky adolescent behaviors are associated with poor long-term outcomes in adulthood, we thought better evidence in this area could be really useful” said Colman, a researcher at the University of Ottawa in Ontario.

Previous studies have suggested a link between a mother’s depression during pregnancy or right after a baby is born to the teenager’s mental health (see Reuters Health article of October 10, 2013 here: http://reut.rs/1zWKAiz.

But not much is known about maternal depression and later adolescent behaviors, Colman’s team writes in the journal Pediatrics.

The study team analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, a large Canadian population study that began when the kids were ages two to five in 1994 and ended in 2009 when they were teenagers.

Every two years, the participating mothers answered questions about their own physical and mental health, and about the health of their kids and spouses or partners, their available social support and family functioning.

Once the children reached the age of 10 or 11, they filled out their own questionnaires.

When they reached adolescence, the young participants were asked about their engagement in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, carrying a weapon or running away from home. A total of 2,910 teens completed the study,

The researchers found that teens who had been exposed to maternal depressive symptoms during middle childhood were more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana, and to engage in violent and nonviolent delinquent behavior.

In addition, they were more likely to engage in these behaviors earlier than teens whose mothers had low or no symptoms of depression.

The study team also found that teens exposed to recurrent maternal depression throughout their childhood engaged in more nonviolent risky behaviors compared to those whose mothers had low or no depression.

In contrast, kids whose mothers’ depression symptoms started when the child was already in the early teens did not engage in more risky behaviors than kids without any maternal depression exposure.

The results don't prove that the mothers' symptoms when their children were young caused the children's behavior in adolescence.

But, the authors write, middle childhood is a period of increasing cognitive, social and emotional development. Kids in this age group begin school, refine their language skills and increasingly engage in social peer relationships. Being exposed to a mother’s depressive symptoms and negative parenting behaviors may harm the child’s own development during this sensitive time and lead to “lasting deficits,” they speculate.

Colman said that asking for help can be hard, but even just talking about how she is feeling can sometimes be a really helpful start on the road to recovery for a mother experiencing depression.

Colman thinks it’s great that there seems to be a growing focus on maternal health, but added, “let’s not forget that what is good for mothers is often good for their kids as well.”

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1rd5zfb Pediatrics, online December 22, 2014.


      This research adds to the evidence that maternal "mental health" affects kids' development and behavior. This research didn't define "depression," or  the criteria the researchers used to identify it. The study focused on kids' "middle childhood," and depended on self-reports from both mothers and older kids. Self-reports often distort reality because of shame, guilt, and denial.

      As with many such studies, this one doesn't investigate how the mothers were raised, why they were depressed, or whether their depression might have been partly or wholly incomplete grief over major life losses.  

      The study focused on only one of a complex set of inter-related family variables (maternal depression) that affect kids' personal and social development. It makes no mention of whether the family system in which the sampled kids were raised was ''functional'' or not, and conspicuously omitted any inclusion of fathers' influence on teens making or avoiding "risky" choices.

      This study indirectly supports the premise that teens' (and adults') "risky" behaviors are symptoms of early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma) caused by parents' inherited [psychological wounds + unawareness] from their ancestors.  -  Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

      Online Lesson 1 in this non-profit Web site explores psychological wounding and effective wound-recovery. Lesson 6 offers a framework for  effective parenting.

   This article was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful     

<<  Related research summaries  >>

Share/Bookmark   /  Prior page   /  Lesson 6  /  Print page 


 site intro  /  course outline  /  site search  /  definitions  /  chat