Abstract

Although previous research identified mothers who experienced childhood maltreatment as exhibiting an especially heightened risk for attachment difficulties with their own young children, evidence regarding the mechanisms of action driving this relationship have been lacking. Thus, the current study introduced mothers' depressive symptoms and the novel construct of reflective functioning as potential mediators to help explain the relationship between mothers' childhood maltreatment experiences and patterns of insecure (i.e., anxious, avoidant, and disorganized) mother-young child attachment. The current study included a community sample of 146 mothers with children who ranged in age from 1 1/2-to 5-years. Mothers provided ratings of their own childhood maltreatment experiences, attachment with their young children, depressive symptoms, reflective functioning, parenting behaviors and attributions, and young children's problems. Correlational analyses displayed significant associations among the variables of interest. Additionally, mediational analyses indicated that mothers' depressive symptoms mediated the relationship between mothers' childhood maltreatment experiences and patterns of insecure mother-young child attachment. Given that mothers' childhood maltreatment experiences failed to predict reflective functioning, the mediational role of reflective functioning was unsupported. Further, mothers' reflective functioning mediated the relationship between mothers' depressive symptoms and patterns of mother-young child insecure attachment. Finally, hierarchical regression analyses showed that mothers' adverse childhood experiences and depressive symptoms uniquely predicted their young children's internalizing and externalizing problems. These data suggested that the psychological consequences resulting from adverse childhood experiences may be more damaging to mothers' attachment with their young children than mothers' adverse childhood experiences alone. Moreover, these findings suggested that mothers' depressive symptoms and reflective functioning work together in predicting mother-young child attachment. Altogether, these results demonstrated the importance for promoting trauma-informed parenting interventions for facilitating secure emotional connections between mothers and young children, especially in mothers with childhood traumatic experiences themselves.

Graduation Date

2017

Semester

Summer

Advisor

Renk, Kimberly

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Psychology

Degree Program

Psychology Clinical

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0006753

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0006753

Language

English

Release Date

August 2017

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

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