Maternal Depression and Parenting in Early Childhood: Contextual Influence of Marital Quality and Social Support in Two Samples

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Abstract

Marital quality and social support satisfaction were tested as moderators of the association between maternal depressive symptoms and parenting during early childhood (18–36 months) among 2 large, divergent, longitudinal samples (n = 526; n = 570). Unexpectedly, in both samples the association between maternal depressive symptoms and reduced parenting quality was strongest in the context of high marital quality and high social support, and largely nonsignificant in the context of low marital quality and low social support. Possible explanations for these surprising findings are discussed. Results point to the importance of accounting for factors in the broader family context in predicting the association between depressive symptoms and maternal parenting.

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