Links Between Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Maternal Empathy, and Responses to Children’s Negative Emotions

dc.contributor.advisorCassidy, Jude
dc.contributor.authorTrujillo, Amanda
dc.contributor.authorDeol, Gunleen
dc.contributor.authorStraske, Davis
dc.contributor.authorFitter, Megan
dc.date.accessioned2021-05-12T15:43:59Z
dc.date.available2021-05-12T15:43:59Z
dc.date.issued2021
dc.description.abstractThe link between maternal depressive symptoms and negative socio-emotional child outcomes is well supported (e.g., Connell & Goodman, 2002; Dittrich et al., 2020; Goodman et al., 2011). However, prior research has not examined links between maternal empathy or mental health and mothers’ responses to child distress. The current study examines the association between maternal depressive symptoms and responses to children's negative emotions, with maternal empathy as a mediator. We hypothesize that mothers’ empathy will mediate the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and responses to children’s negative emotions, such that greater depressive symptoms will predict less empathy, which, in turn, will predict more unsupportive and fewer supportive responses to children’s negative emotions. Participants (N = 80) were mothers (47.6% white, 21.0% African American, 6.7% Asian/Pacific Islander, 10.5% Hispanic, 14.3% other and missing) and their children (M age = 4.5 years; 40.0% male, 49.5% female, 10.5% missing) from a two-part study with a 2-week interval between sessions. The indirect effects of maternal depressive symptoms on unsupportive responses (indirect effect = 0.001, [-.002, .004]) and supportive responses (indirect effect = .000, [-.002, .002]) through maternal empathy were not significant. However, there was a significant direct effect of maternal depressive symptoms on unsupportive responses (b = .028, p = .002) and a marginally significant direct effect of maternal depression on supportive responses (b = -.014, p = .089). Although we did not find a link between depressive symptoms and empathy, we found links between empathy and two subscales of unsupportive responses (maternal distress and punitive responses), and a marginally significant link between empathy and a subscale of supportive responses (problem-focused reactions). These findings suggest that parenting interventions targeting mothers with elevated depressive symptoms should aim to enhance maternal empathy to decrease unsupportive responses and increase supportive responses to children’s negative emotions.en_US
dc.identifierhttps://doi.org/10.13016/7ssj-loiu
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1903/27046
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.relation.isAvailableAtMaryland Center for Undergraduate Research
dc.relation.isAvailableAtDigital Repository at the University of Maryland
dc.relation.isAvailableAtUniversity of Maryland (College Park, Md)
dc.titleLinks Between Maternal Depressive Symptoms, Maternal Empathy, and Responses to Children’s Negative Emotionsen_US
dc.typePresentationen_US

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