Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The relationship between maternal depression and parenting was explored in three distinct ways: (1) the direct effect of maternal depression, as it is measured proximally and distally to parenting, (2) the moderation of proximal and distal maternal depression by contextual stress, and (3) the mediation of proximal and distal maternal depression by maternal perceptions of child problem behaviour. Two aspects of maternal behaviour were examined: aversive parenting (negative control strategies, negative affect, lack of positive control strategies) and positive affect (positive affect and affection).;A community sample of 95 mother-child dyads participated in 12, 1-hr in-home behavioural observations. Also, mothers completed questionnaires tapping maternal depression, contextual stress, and perceptions of child problem behaviour at intake and at each observation visit. Results failed to support the moderator role of contextual stress and contextual stress was not predictive of aversive parenting or positive affect.;Results supported the maternal depression-aversive parenting link across time; maternal depression was not significantly associated with positive affect. Most notably, support was found for the cognitive mediation of depression by maternal perceptions of child problem behaviour. This was established for distal depression only in the prediction of aversive parenting. In contrast, proximal maternal depression and proximal perceptions of child problem behaviour each contributed to the prediction of aversive parenting. These relations held when controlling for socioeconomic status, suggesting them to be fundamental processes.;These findings are consistent with current theories of parenting, cognitive theories of depression, and current research in parenting and depression. They extend the current theoretical and empirical base of knowledge to sharpen the focus on dysfunctional parenting in current theoretical accounts, thereby highlighting the need to expand our models to account for parental positive affective behaviours. Further, they clarify different process mechanisms for distal and proximal depression in affecting aversive parenting, identifying contemporaneous depression as a direct intervention target. Finally, they provide a focus on maternal ratings of child problem behaviour as a salient influence in aversive parenting, thereby challenging parenting interventions to address such cognitive components. Limitations to the present findings, future directions for research, and further issues for theory, measurement, and clinical practice are discussed.



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