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The influence of parental and contextual variables on the quality of the mother-child relationship and child cognitive and behavioural outcomes : implications for the intergenerational transfer of risk

Title:

The influence of parental and contextual variables on the quality of the mother-child relationship and child cognitive and behavioural outcomes : implications for the intergenerational transfer of risk

Bentley, Vivianne M. N (2002) The influence of parental and contextual variables on the quality of the mother-child relationship and child cognitive and behavioural outcomes : implications for the intergenerational transfer of risk. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The present set of two studies were designed to investigate the quality of the mother-child relationship in a sample of mothers and fathers with histories of childhood aggression and social withdrawal, and their at-risk children. In proposing a transfer of risk, it was hypothesized that childhood aggression and social withdrawal may affect the quality of emotional availability between mothers and children. Alternatively, the mother-child relationship may be compromised as a result of the multiple stresses that mothers experience. Participants were recruited from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, a project that began in 1977 when 1,770 children in Grades 1, 4, or 7, from low SES neighbourhoods, were classified along the dimensions of aggression and social withdrawal. Study 1 focused on the high-risk mothers in the sample. Study 2 focused on the high-risk fathers within which it was possible to compare the quality of parenting and home environments provided by their spouses to the high-risk mothers who participated in Study 1. The interactions of mothers and their children were videotaped in their homes. Mothers completed questionnaires regarding income levels, parenting stress, levels of social support and depressive symptoms. In Study 1, evidence that the quality of emotional availability may be compromised by mother's childhood risk status was found. In particular, mother's childhood aggression in combination with social withdrawal predicted higher levels of hostility. There was also evidence for the transfer of risk as a result of contextual stresses. Mothers with higher stress levels were found to be less sensitive and more hostile in their interactions with their children. In evaluating the transfer of risk to children's cognitive and behavioural functioning both direct and indirect effects of childhood risk factors were found. In Study 2, there was less evidence for the intergenerational transfer of risk as a result of fathers' childhood risk status, or through the quality of their spouses' interactions with their children. In considering pathways for the intergenerational transfer of risk, the results of Study 1, in particular, support the notion that both parenting and environmental variables are important influences in children's development and can confer risk through different mechanisms. The results also underscore the importance of including both maternal and paternal variables in intergenerational research in order to further delineate mechanisms that impact the development of competence in young children.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Bentley, Vivianne M. N
Pagination:xiv, 269 leaves : forms ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Dept. of Psychology
Date:2002
Thesis Supervisor(s):Stack, Dale
ID Code:2439
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:28
Last Modified:14 Dec 2012 16:36
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