This investigation analyzed baseline (i.e., pre-intervention) data from a large-scale, randomized, controlled trial of a parenting intervention: the After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) program funded by the National Institutes of Health. The total ADAPT sample included 336 one- and two-parent National Guard and Reserve (NGR) families; however, this study focused on mother-child relationships for 6 to11 year old children, thus the final number of families in the study was 237 (n=237); with data from 237 mothers, 237 children, and 181 teachers. All mothers enrolled in this study had experienced deployment, either through their partners’ experience or through their own. The objective of this study was to capture possible associations between theoretically-derived risk factors (i.e., maternal deployment, family social support, maternal depression, and couple adjustment) and child functioning (i.e., internalizing and externalizing symptoms) as well as parenting (i.e., parental locus of control) in a sample of NGR families. Relationships were examined grounded in the family stress model (FSM), which accounted for cumulative and reciprocal influences of risk factors in a mediation analysis. The analysis of choice was path analysis not only because it elucidates a path model grounded in theory but also because it compares several multiple regressions simultaneously. The model tested demonstrated: (i) a direct effect of social support on child externalizing symptoms; (ii) a direct effect of maternal depression on child internalizing symptoms; (iii) a direct effect of maternal depression on parental locus of control; (iv) a direct effect of parental locus of control on child externalizing symptoms; and (v) an indirect effect of parental locus of control on the relationship between maternal depression and child externalizing symptoms. In brief, maternal depressive symptoms proved to be a crucial predictor of child internalizing symptoms, which is in accordance with existing civilian and military literature. More importantly, depressed mothers tended to have children with more externalizing issues possibly because they did not believe they could affect their child’s behavior (i.e. they reported poorer sense of control). Mothers with more symptoms of depression also tended to have more children with internalizing issues despite their perceptions of how they affected their child’s behavior. Implications for public health policies include research investment and interventions that prevent maternal depression and bolster social support. Furthermore, policy initiatives that prepare military families (i.e., family-centered initiatives) should focus on minimizing risk factors to prevent maternal and child psychopathology. Efficient and reliable ways to enhance existing systems of care and to effectively respond to the needs of the military families may be through community-based systems, including schools, child-care providers, and health-care and mental health facilities.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.May 2016. Major: Family Social Science. Advisors: Abigail Gewirtz, Carolyn Porta. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 54 pages.
De Felippe, Nanci.
The Association of Contextual Risk, Parenting, and Child Functioning in a National Guard and Reserve Population.
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