Parent-child interactions of depressed and nondepressed mothers and fathers
Schoemann, Nancy O.
This study examined depressed (N=20) and non-depressed (N=20) mothers and fathers interacting with their children ages 7-17 (Mean = 12.03; SD = 2.21). The sample consisted of 13 mother-daughter pairs, 7 mother-son pairs, 11 father-daughter pairs, and 9 father-son pairs. All depressed parents met criteria for a current Major Depressive Episode. The parent-child interactions were conducted in the laboratory when depressed parents were just beginning their treatment. The nondepressed comparison group was recruited from public schools. Parents and children were video-taped for 10 minutes discussing an issue that sometimes caused conflict between them. The Iowa Family Interaction Rating System was used to code the interaction behaviors of parents and children. Depressed parents showed significantly less nurturance and positive affect, and significantly more hostility and negative affect compared to nondepressed parents; offspring of depressed parents displayed significantly more hostility and negative affect than did children of nondepressed parents. With regard to gender, both depressed and nondepressed mothers displayed more nurturance toward their sons than daughters, whereas both depressed and nondepressed fathers displayed more nurturance toward their daughters than sons. Among nondepressed parents, mothers communicated better with sons than with daughters, and fathers communicated better with daughters than sons. Among depressed parents, both mothers and fathers communicated better with sons than with daughters. These results highlight the need for interventions that help depressed parents interact more positively with their children.