Child abuse history in teen mothers and parent-child risk processes for offspring externalizing problems

Dave S. Pasalich*, Maeve Cyr, Yao Zheng, Robert J. McMahon, Susan J. Spieker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined whether child abuse history in teen mothers impacts offspring externalizing problems indirectly, through its influence on attachment and maternal hostility. In a longitudinal sample of 112 teen mother-child dyads, mothers reported on their own abuse experiences, attachment and maternal hostility were assessed via direct observations, and externalizing problems were measured using maternal reports. Compared with mothers with no abuse history, mothers with a history of sexual and physical abuse were more likely to have an insecurely attached infant, which predicted higher externalizing problems in preschool, which in turn predicted subsequent increases in externalizing problems in Grade 3. Furthermore, relative to the no abuse history group, mothers with a history of sexual and physical abuse showed more hostility toward their child at preschool, which in turn predicted elevated externalizing problems in Grade 3. Mothers' history of either sexual or physical abuse alone did not have significant indirect effects on externalizing problems. Fostering secure attachment and reducing risk for maternal hostility might be important intervention goals for prevention programs involving at-risk mothers with abuse histories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume56
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Child abuse history in teen mothers and parent-child risk processes for offspring externalizing problems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this