Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 335–343 | Cite as

Parental Depression and Economic Disadvantage: The Role of Parenting in Associations with Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms in Children and Adolescents

  • Michelle M. Reising
  • Kelly H. Watson
  • Emily J. Hardcastle
  • Mary Jane Merchant
  • Lorinda Roberts
  • Rex Forehand
  • Bruce E. Compas
Original Paper


This study examined the effects of parental depression symptoms, economic disadvantage, and parenting behaviors in 180 children and adolescents of depressed parents (ages 9–15 years-old). Analyses revealed that while parental depression symptoms, economic disadvantage, and disrupted parenting behaviors were related to children’s internalizing and externalizing symptoms, disrupted parenting (e.g., intrusive, neglectful parenting) accounted for the association of parental depressive symptoms and economic disadvantage with children’s symptoms. This study provides evidence that disrupted parenting may be a common or shared process through which both parental depression and economic disadvantage are associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing problems.


Parental depression Economic disadvantage Parenting Child/adolescent Psychopathology 


  1. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families.Google Scholar
  2. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Brown, G. K. (1996). Beck depression inventory-Second edition, manual. Manual: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  4. Brennan, P. A., Brocque, R. L., & Hammen, C. (2003). Maternal depression, parent-child relationships, and resilient outcomes in adolescence. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 42, 1469–1477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2009). Maternal depression can undermine the development of young children: Working paper no. 8.
  6. Compas, B. E., Champion, J. E., Forehand, R., Cole, D. A., Reeslund, K. L., Fear, J., et al. (2010). Coping and parenting: Mediators of 12-month outcomes of a family group cognitivebehavioral preventive intervention with families of depressed parents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(5), 623–634.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Compas, B. E., Forehand, R., Keller, G., Champion, J. E., Rakow, A., Reeslund, K. L., et al. (2009). Randomized controlled trial of a family cognitive-behavioral preventive intervention for children of depressed parents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(6), 1007–1020.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conger, R. D., & Donnellan, M. B. (2007). An interactionist perspective on the socioeconomic context of human development. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 175–199.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Connor-Smith, J. K., Compas, B. E., Wadsworth, M. E., Thomsen, A. H., & Saltzman, H. (2000). Responses to stress in adolescence: Measurement of coping and involuntary responses to stress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 976–992.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. England, M. J., & Sim, L. J. (Eds.). (2009). Depression in parents, parenting, and children: Opportunities to improve identification, treatment, and prevention. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  11. Evans, G. W., & English, K. (2002). The environment of poverty: Multiple stressor exposure, psychophysiological stress, and socioemotional adjustment. Child Development, 73, 1238–1248.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Everson, S. A., Maty, S. C., Lynch, J. W., & Kaplan, G. A. (2002). Epidemiologic evidence for the relation between socioeconomic status and depression, obesity, and diabetes. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53(4), 891–895.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Feder, A., Alonso, A., Tang, M., Liriano, W., Warner, V., Pilowsky, D., et al. (2009). Children of low-income depressed mothers: Psychiatric disorders and social adjustment. Depression and Anxiety, 26(6), 513–520.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (2001). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV-TR axis I disorders, research version, patient edition (SCID- I/P). New York: Biometrics Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute.Google Scholar
  15. Flouri, E., Mavroveli, S., & Tzavidis, N. (2010). Modeling risks: Effects of area deprivation, family socio-economic disadvantage and adverse life events on young children’s psychopathology. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 45, 611–619.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Foster, C. E., Webster, M. C., Weissman, M. M., Pilowsky, D. J., Wickramarante, P. J., Talati, A., et al. (2008). Remission of maternal depression: Relations to family functioning and youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 37, 714–724.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Garber, J., & Martin, N. C. (2002). Negative cognitions in offspring of depressed parents: Mechanisms of risk. In S. H. Goodman & I. H. Gotlib (Eds.), Children of depressed parents: Mechanisms of risk and implications for treatment (pp. 121–153). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodman, S. H., Rouse, M. H., Connell, A. M., Broth, M. R., Hall, C. M., & Heyward, D. (2011). Maternal depression and child psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14, 1–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grant, K. E., Compas, B. E., Stuhlmacher, A. F., Thurm, A. E., & McMahon, S. D. (2003). Stressors and child and adolescent psychopathology: Moving from markers to mechanisms of risk. Psychological Bulletin, 129(3), 447–466.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hammen, C. (2002). Context of stress in families of children with depressed parents. In S. H. Goodman & I. H. Gotlib (Eds.), Children of depressed parents: Mechanisms of risk and implications for treatment (pp. 175–195). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hanson, M. D., & Chen, E. (2007). Socioeconomic status, race, and body mass index: The mediating role of physical activity and sedentary behaviors during adolescence. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32, 250–259.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Howard, M. S., & Medway, F. J. (2004). Adolescents’ attachment and coping with stress. Psychology in the Schools, 41, 391–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jaser, S. S., Fear, J. M., Reeslund, K. L., Champion, J. E., Reising, M. M., & Compas, B. E. (2008). Maternal sadness and adolescents’ responses to stress in offspring of mothers with and without a history of depression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 37, 736–746.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Jaser, S. S., Langrock, A. M., Keller, G., Merchant, M. J., Benson, M. A., Reeslund, K. L., et al. (2005). Coping with the stress of parental depression II: Adolescent and parent reports of coping and adjustment. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 193–205.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Kaufman, J., Birmaher, B., Brent, D., Rao, U., Flynn, C., Moreci, P., et al. (1997). Schedule for affective disorders and schizophrenia for school-age children- present and lifetime version (K-SADS-PL): Initial reliability and validity data. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36(7), 980–988.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Langrock, A. M., Compas, B. E., Keller, G., & Merchant, M. J. (2002). Coping with the stress of parental depression: Parents’ reports of children’s coping and emotional/behavioral problems. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31, 312–324.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: The effects of neighborhood residence on children and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 309–337.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lovejoy, C. M., Graczyk, P. A., O’Hare, E., & Neuman, G. (2000). Maternal depression and parenting behavior: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 20, 561–592.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maxwell, S. E., & Cole, D. A. (2007). Bias in cross-sectional analyses of longitudinal mediation. Psychological Methods, 12, 23–44.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Miller, G. E., Chen, E., & Zhou, E. S. (2007). If it goes up, must if come down? Chronic stress and the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis in humans. Psychological Bulletin, 133, 25–45.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Repetti, R., Wang, S., & Saxbe, D. (2009). Bringing it all back home: How outside stressors shape families’ everyday lives. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(2), 106–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Santiago, C.D., Wadsworth, M. E., & Stump, J. (2010). Socioeconomic status, neighborhood disadvantage, and poverty-related stress: Prospective effects on psychological syndromes. Journal of Economic Psychology (in press).Google Scholar
  33. Slopen, N., Fitzmaurice, G., Williams, D. R., & Gilman, S. E. (2010). Poverty, food insecurity, and the behavior for childhood internalizing and externalizing disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 444–452.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Wadsworth, M., & Achenbach, T. M. (2005). Explaining the link between low socioeconomic status and psychopathology: Testing two mechanisms of the social causation hypothesis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(6), 1146–1153.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wadsworth, M., Raviv, T., Reinhard, C., Wolff, B., Santiago, C. D., & Einhorn, L. (2008). An indirect effects model of the association between poverty and child functioning: The role of children’s poverty-related stress. Journal of loss & trauma, 13, 156–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wadsworth, M. E., & Compas, B. E. (2002). Coping with family conflict and economic strain: The adolescent perspective. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 12, 243–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wardle, J., Robb, K., & Johnson, F. (2002). Assessing socioeconomic status in adolescents: The validity of a home affluence scale. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 56, 595–599.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle M. Reising
    • 1
  • Kelly H. Watson
    • 1
  • Emily J. Hardcastle
    • 1
  • Mary Jane Merchant
    • 2
  • Lorinda Roberts
    • 2
  • Rex Forehand
    • 2
  • Bruce E. Compas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations