The Effects of Discrimination on Black Mothers’ Internalizing Symptoms and Parenting Behavior
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Evidence supports that discrimination has an impact on maternal mental health, and that depression can lead to poor parenting practices, but how might these variables relate for Black mothers? I hypothesize that: Black mothers’ experiences with discrimination will be positively correlated to depressive and anxiety symptoms; depressive symptoms would be positively correlated with punitive and minimizing responses; anxiety symptoms would be positively related to punitive and minimizing responses; and, discrimination will be positively correlated to punitive and minimizing responses to children’s emotions. I conducted a secondary data analysis using data from the School Transitions and Academic Readiness Project (STAR) at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro (N=277). Participants (n=86) included Black mothers and their 4-6 year old children, and measures assessed discrimination, depression, anxiety, and emotional socialization in relation to punitive and minimizing parenting practices. Results revealed a trend association between mothers' reported racial discrimination and their depressive symptoms, r = .18, p < .10, and a significant positive correlation between reported discrimination and anxiety symptoms, r = .22, p < .05. There was a significant positive correlation between mothers’ depressive symptoms and punitive responses, r = .43, p < .05, as well as between mothers’ depressive symptoms and minimizing responses, r = .34, p < .05. There was a significant positive correlation between mothers’ anxiety symptoms and punitive responses, r = .31, p < .05, and a significant positive correlation between anxiety symptoms and minimizing responses, r = .24, p < .05. There was no correlation between discrimination and parenting for either punishing or minimizing responses. These results are necessary to consider when assessing Black families, given that the negative impacts on maternal mental health can lead to decreased academic performance and peer acceptance for children. Future directions should assess the effect of discrimination on parenting responses as mediated by depressive or anxiety symptoms.