ASSOCIATIONS AMONG SEVERITY OF PARENTAL DEPRESSION, PARENTING BEHAVIORS AND ATTRIBUTIONS, AND CHILDREN’S INTERNALIZING AND EXTERNALIZING PROBLEMS
Prior research has documented the association between parental depression and negative outcomes in offspring, such that parental depression is linked with emotional and behavior problems in their children. Depression is quite heterogeneous, however. The current study examined (a) the association between severity of parents’ current level of depressive symptoms and internalizing and externalizing problems in children of parents with a history of depression, (b) parenting behaviors (e.g., warmth; psychological control, behavioral control) and parents’ attributions about their child’s behaviors in relation to offspring emotional and behavioral symptoms, and (c) parenting and parental negative attributions as possible moderators of the association between severity of parental depression and children’s internalizing and externalizing problems. Participants were 188 children, ages 9- to 15-years-old (M = 11.53, SD = 1.92; 51.9% female). All parents had experienced a depressive disorder within their child’s life. Results indicated that high severity of parental depression was significantly associated with high levels of externalizing but not internalizing problems in offspring. Parental warmth and negative attributions were associated with offspring internalizing and externalizing, and high parental psychological control was significantly associated with high levels of offspring externalizing problems. Further, both parental warmth and negative attributions moderated the relation between parental depression severity and offspring symptoms. The association between severity of parents’ depressive symptoms and children’s internalizing was significant at higher levels of parental warmth only, and the association between severity of parents’ depressive symptoms and children’s externalizing was significant at lower levels of parental negative attributions. Implications of the results for clinical intervention include improvement of risk identification, prevention, and treatment of the intergenerational transmission of depression.