Maternal Psychiatric Disorders, Parenting, and Maternal Behavior in the Home During the Child Rearing Years

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Data from the Children in the Community Study, a community-based longitudinal study, were used to investigate associations between maternal psychiatric disorders and child-rearing behaviors. Maternal psychiatric symptoms and behavior in the home were assessed in 782 families during the childhood and adolescence of the offspring. Maternal anxiety, depressive, disruptive, personality, and substance use disorders were independently associated with current and subsequent parenting difficulties and other problems in the home during the child rearing years, after co-occurring disorders and offspring behavior problems were controlled statistically. Maternal personality disorders were most consistently associated with problems in the home during the child rearing years. Less than 1 of 3 mothers with disorders reported having received treatment. Those who received treatment were significantly less likely to experience multiple difficulties in the home during the child rearing years. These findings suggest that maternal psychiatric disorder may be an important determinant of problematic maternal behavior in the home during the child rearing years. Improved recognition and treatment of maternal psychiatric disorders may help to reduce the amount of maladaptive parenting behavior that many youths might otherwise be likely to experience.

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