Depressed mothers who fight with partners much more likely to smack children

Depressed mothers who fight with partners much more likely to smack children

According to research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, mother's are more that twice as likely to use smacking to discipline her child if they face a mix of depression and violent arguments with a partner compared to women who only deal with one of the two factors.

Researcher Michael Silverstein (Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA) and colleagues from the United States studied about 13,000 mother and child pairs who participated in the Kindergarten Cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort. The sample is designed to be nationally representative of US children who attended kindergarten in 1998 -1999. Researchers assessed depression in mothers and they asked mother a series of questions to determine whether disagreements with a partner led to hitting and throwing objects at one another. Teachers supplied information about the behavior of children.

Of the entire sample:

  • Over 10,000 women were not categorized as depressed or experienced home violence.
  • 1,700 were depressed without home violence.
  • About 500 reported home violence but were not depressed.
  • 236 women were both depressed and exposed to violence at home.

The authors found that:

  • About 25% of the mothers who were neither depressed nor exposed to violence reported that they smack their children.
  • About 33% of those who were depressed OR exposed to violence smack their children.
  • About 50% of those who were depressed AND exposed to violence smack their children.
Mothers who were not depressed but who violently argued with their partners were almost 50% more likely to use force to discipline children, depressed mothers alone were about 60% more likely to smack. These compare with mothers who were both depressed and who had argued violently with their partners - they were 2.5 times as likely to smack their children. The findings held even after controlling for the behavior of the children.

According to several studies, regular smacking early in the life of a child may increase their propensity to assume maladaptive behaviors as adults. However, the use of smacking as a form of discipline remains a hotly debated topic.

Silverstein and colleagues conclude that: "Our study offers further evidence for the combined adverse effects of maternal depression and violence exposure on the children of affected women. Our data suggest that these common, and potentially modifiable, risk factors are more apt to affect whether or not a mother uses smacking to discipline her children than they are to affect the frequency of smacking. Although the relationship between parent and child-level factors relative to punishment practices is complex, our data suggest that meaningful associations between maternal depression, violence exposure and smacking persist in the face of varying child behaviours."

The relationship between maternal depression, in home violence and use of physical punishment: what is the role of child behaviour?

M Silverstein, M Augustyn, R Young, B Zuckerman

Archives of Disease in Childhood .

doi: 10.1136/adc.2007.128595

Click Here to View Journal Web Site

How Domestic Violence Impacts Children | Child Anxiety (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Psychiatry