Parenting in Context: Associations of Parental Depression and Socioeconomic Factors with Parenting Behaviors

  • Allison VreelandEmail author
  • Meredith A. Gruhn
  • Kelly H. Watson
  • Alexandra H. Bettis
  • Bruce E. Compas
  • Rex Forehand
  • Alexandra D. Sullivan
Original Paper



The current study examined the unique and combined associations of parental depression and socioeconomic disadvantage with parenting behaviors in parents with a history of depression.


A sample of 180 parents with a history of major depressive disorder and one of their children (ages 9–15 years old) completed a videorecorded conversation task and parents completed self-report measures of depression symptoms and socioeconomic variables (parental education, income, marital status).


Parental depression symptoms and socioeconomic variables were related to higher levels of harsh and withdrawn parenting in univariate analyses. In multivariate analyses, socioeconomic factors were significant predictors of both types of disrupted parenting. However, while parental depression symptoms remained a significant predictor of withdrawn parenting, they no longer significantly predicted harsh parenting when socioeconomic factors were included in multivariate analyses.


Results highlight the importance of considering the economic context of families, particularly the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on parenting behaviors in a sample of depressed parents.


Parenting Depression Socioeconomic status 



This research was supported by grants R01MH069928 and R01MH069940 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Vanderbilt University and University of Vermont institutional review boards and the national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments of comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison Vreeland
    • 1
    Email author
  • Meredith A. Gruhn
    • 1
  • Kelly H. Watson
    • 1
  • Alexandra H. Bettis
    • 1
  • Bruce E. Compas
    • 1
  • Rex Forehand
    • 2
  • Alexandra D. Sullivan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology & Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychological ScienceUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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