The Relationship between Maternal Depression, Anxiety, and Social Anxiety Symptoms and Psychological Control
Mathai, Babetta B.
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Studies have revealed the unique relations between parent symptoms of depression, anxiety, and social anxiety in relation to parenting constructs (e.g., behavioral control); however, little research has been conducted on the parenting construct of psychological control. Further, few studies that have examined psychological control have taken comorbid symptoms into account. Relations exist between parent symptoms, parenting behaviors, and child internalizing symptoms; however, these variables have not been examined altogether for psychological control. Therefore, the aim of the study was to examine if mothers’ depression, anxiety, and social anxiety symptoms and maternal psychological control were related after controlling for maternal behavioral control as well as before and after controlling for maternal comorbid symptoms and child internalizing symptoms. Data were collected from 133 biological mothers and their children, aged 8-12 years-old. The sample consisted mostly of a middle- to upper- class range of mothers who identified as Caucasian (61.7%), Hispanic (24.8%), 6.0% African American (6.0%), 0.8% Asian (.8%), and Other/Mixed ethnicities (6.8%). Each mother-child dyad was given a battery of measures that included reports about the self as well as about the relationship between the mother and child. Unexpectedly, maternal depressive symptoms were not uniquely related to mother- or child-reported maternal psychological control. Partially consistent with expectations, maternal anxiety symptoms were not uniquely related to mother- or child-reported maternal psychological control. Somewhat inconsistent with expectations, maternal social anxiety symptoms were related to mother- and child-reported maternal psychological control when controlling for comorbid maternal symptoms but not when child internalizing symptoms were controlled. Limitations, future directions, and implications of the present study are discussed.