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The Relations Among Maternal Depression, Maternal Criticism, and Adolescents’ Externalizing and Internalizing Symptoms



This study examined the relations between maternal criticism and externalizing and internalizing symptoms in adolescents who varied in their risk for psychopathology. Both maternal-effects and child-effects models were examined. The sample consisted of 194 adolescents (mean age = 11.8~years) and their mothers; 146 mothers had a history of depressive disorders and 48 did not. When adolescents were in 6th and 8th grade, maternal criticism was measured with the five-minute speech sample and adolescents’ symptoms were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist. Maternal criticism was significantly associated with both adolescents’ externalizing and internalizing symptoms, beyond the contribution of the chronicity/severity of mothers’ depression history. Maternal criticism did not mediate the relation between maternal depression and adolescent symptoms. In contrast, adolescent externalizing behaviors mediated the relation between chronicity/severity of maternal depression history and maternal criticism in 6th grade. Prospective analyses showed that adolescents’ externalizing symptoms in 6th grade significantly predicted maternal criticism in 8th grade, controlling for maternal depression history and prior maternal criticism. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of examining child-effects models in studies of maternal criticism.



Journal of Abnormal Child PsychologySpringer Journals

Published: Feb 1, 2005

DOI: 10.1007/s10802-005-0929-9

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