Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Parents' Parenting Awareness and Depressive Symptoms in Treatment-Referred Youth/La Conscience Du Rôle Parental Chez Les Parents et Les Symptômes Dépressifs Chez Les Jeunes Dirigés Vers le Traitement

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Parents' Parenting Awareness and Depressive Symptoms in Treatment-Referred Youth/La Conscience Du Rôle Parental Chez Les Parents et Les Symptômes Dépressifs Chez Les Jeunes Dirigés Vers le Traitement

Article excerpt

Current models of risk for internalizing difficulties in youth are complex and multifactorial, implicating genetic, neurobiological, cognitive, and family context factors, among others. Within these complex models, decades of research have convincingly linked parenting experiences to mood psychopathology (e.g., Bayer, Sanson, & Hemphill, 2006; McLeod, Weisz, & Wood, 2007; McLeod, Wood, & Weisz, 2007). Yet this field of research is plagued with methodological inconsistency, and scant research has carefully considered child, parent, and observational measures of parenting behaviours to elucidate patterns of risk. Understanding how parenting and, more specifically, parents' reports of their own parenting relates to internalizing difficulties such as depressive symptoms is important, given that youth are most often referred to treatment by parents (Stanger & Lewis, 1993). Parents are also typically primary informants and often involved in youth treatment (De Los Reyes & Kazdin, 2005; Stanger & Lewis, 1993).

The current study focuses on parents' awareness and acknowledgement of their observed parenting behaviours, with the goal of better elucidating the role of parenting with youth at risk for depressive symptoms. This research aims to inform how to best utilize multiple perspectives of parenting in assessment, formulation, and intervention with youth.

PARENTING AND YOUTH MOOD DIFFICULTIES

Internalizing difficulties comprise many unobservable symptoms (e.g., sadness, loss of pleasure) and are often overlooked and more difficult to assess than comparatively more observable symptoms of distress (Stanger & Lewis, 1993). Mood disorders can have a much earlier onset than once believed, with onset commonly occurring between 13 and 15 years of age (Lewinsohn, Hops, Roberts, Seely, & Andrews, 1993), and early detection and treatment may improve prognosis considerably (e.g., Le & Boyd, 2006). Depressive symptoms are important harbingers of disorder, particularly amongst treatment-referred youth (e.g. Pine, Cohen, Cohen, & Brook, 1999) and will be the focus of the current investigation. To facilitate early identification and promotion of positive emotional development, understanding patterns of risk contributing to the development of depressive symptoms and disorders is critical. Given the central role parents play throughout the process of referral, assessment, diagnosis, and intervention, understanding the role of family context in the development and maintenance of internalizing difficulties is a key consideration.

Research repeatedly supports associations between parenting and internalizing difficulties in youth (e.g., Bayer et al., 2006; Kiel & Maack, 2012; McLeod, Weisz, et al., 2007; McLeod, Wood, et al., 2007), with parental responsiveness and psychological control consistently emerging as important variables for understanding this relation. Parental responsiveness encompasses feelings of closeness, expression of warmth and acceptance toward the child, and devoting attention to the child's needs (Bogenschneider & Pallock, 2008). Low parental responsiveness is found to undermine a child's self-esteem and ability to regulate emotions, and leads to feelings of helplessness and negative beliefs about the self, thus contributing to increased risk for depression (Hipwell et al., 2008; Marton & Maharaj, 1993; McLeod, Weisz, et al., 2007).

Psychological control refers to harsh discipline, criticism, intrusive behaviour, excessive regulation of the child's activities, and a minimal level of granting of age-appropriate autonomy (Bayer et al., 2006). It is found to reduce perceptions of mastery, self-efficacy, and personal control, and to increase feelings of helpless- ness and symptoms of depression (Barber & Harmon, 2002; McLeod, Weisz, et al., 2007). What is less clear is how various perspectives (e.g. child, parent, observer) on these parenting behaviours may be differentially associated with youth depressive symptoms. …

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