Promotive Factors of Mothers’ Social Ecologies Indirectly Predict Children’s Adjustment

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Abstract

Objective: Social ecological and intergenerational models of risk and resilience have important implications for understanding child health following trauma. These models are highly compatible and readily unified from a theoretical perspective, but empirical evaluations of social ecological theory have rarely incorporated intergenerational processes that extend beyond the parent–child relationship to include other systems. The current study seeks to utilize an integrative approach that examines an intergenerational application of the social ecological model by evaluating the indirect influence of risk and promotive factors in mothers’ social ecologies (at child age 1) on children’s adjustment problems (at child age 4 and 6) via maternal depression (at child age 1 and 4). Methods: Child and caregiver data were drawn from the Consortium of Longitudinal Studies in Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN). LONGSCAN is a 5-site study taking place in diverse geographic locations across the United States. Across sites, samples included children who either had a documented history of maltreatment and/or were identified as “high risk” for maltreatment. Only those mother–child dyads who participated in the age 1 visit were included in the study (n = 286). Results: Results indicated that maternal victimization, maternal family satisfaction, and maternal report of neighborhood quality indirectly affected later child adjustment via maternal depression. Conclusions: Integrating factors of the multiple social ecologies inhabited by mothers and children is an important new research direction for resilience work, which to date has focused overwhelmingly on factors within the child’s social ecology to the neglect of intergenerational processes.

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