Doctor of Philosophy
Date of Defense
Steven E. Bruce, Ph.D.
Zoe D. Peterson
Although a good deal of research has been conducted examining the effects of parental psychopathology of various types (i.e. maternal and paternal depression and schizophrenia, paternal PTSD), very few studies have investigated the influence of maternal PTSD on mothers’ parenting and their children’s behavioral and psychological functioning. This paucity of research is in spite of the fact that women exhibit higher lifetime PTSD prevalence rates than men. The current study examined the influence of maternal PTSD and trauma on mothers’ parenting, family functioning, and children’s psychological well-being in a sample of 125 mothers and 34 mother-child dyads. Mothers provided self-report information regarding their lifetime history of traumatic events, current PTSD symptoms, current parenting beliefs, and beliefs about the current functioning of their family. Mothers also reported on the current psychological functioning of their oldest child. Analyses revealed that mothers in the PTSD group reported significantly worse parenting satisfaction and efficacy, and family problem-solving, communication, and general functioning than did mothers in the Non-trauma group. Mothers in the PTSD group also reported that their children suffer from significantly more internalizing and total psychological problems than children of mothers in the Non-trauma group. Mothers who had experienced a trauma but did not suffer from PTSD reported significantly worse family problem-solving and child total problems than mothers in the Non-trauma group. These results suggest that although a lifetime history of traumatic experiences may negatively impact mothers’ parenting, family functioning, and the psychological well-being of their children to a slight degree, the presence of PTSD following these experiences is even more detrimental.
Sutherland, Desiree Alana, "Maternal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Parenting, Family Functioning, and Child Outcome" (2011). Dissertations. 429.