Caretaking behaviors in adolescent children of depressed parents
Champion, Jennifer Elaine
In a sample of 89 depressed parents and their 115 adolescent children, ages 9-15, child caretaking behaviors were examined to determine their relationship to child and parent demographic characteristics, parental functioning and parenting, and potential child psychosocial correlates. Three different indicators of child caretaking were used: observed emotional caretaking (e.g., caring for a parent’s emotional distress), observed instrumental caretaking (e.g., looking after siblings), and child self-reports of caretaking measured by the Parentification Questionnaire-Youth (PQ-Y; Godsall & Jurkovic, 1995). Observations of caretaking were assessed during two parent-child interaction tasks: discussion of a shared pleasant activity and discussion of a recent stressful period related to the parent’s depression. Results showed that indicators of caretaking were differentially related to demographic characteristics and therefore suggest that caretaking should be considered as a multidimensional, multidetermined construct. Caretaking appeared to be strongly related to parental functioning and also appeared to have a stronger relationship to negative parenting than to positive parenting behaviors. Evidence was found for a curvilinear relationship between caretaking and its psychosocial correlates. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.