A Study of Family Risk Contexts and Child Conduct Problems Among Rural, Low-Income Families Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Zvara, Bharathi Jayanthi
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • This dissertation research is comprised of three studies using data from a larger study, the Family Life Project, aimed at examining the role of family functioning in the development of conduct problems in young children within high-risk contexts. Specifically, study 1, using propensity-matched controls, explores long-term adjustment of women in terms of individual functioning, parenting behavior, and relationship quality as a function of childhood sexual trauma status. Study 2 focuses attention on the pathways by which a mother's childhood sexual trauma may exert influence on her parenting behavior and thereby influence the behavioral development of her children, including her depressive symptomatology, parenting behavior, and alcohol and substance use using the same propensity matched sample as in study 1. Using a subsample of resident fathers from the larger Family Life Project, the focus of study 3 was on mothers' adaptive parenting strategies of maternal gatekeeping behaviors in the prediction of conduct problems in her children in the context of a home environment with an alcohol-and substance-using father and intimate partner violence. Data for these analyses were obtained from mother reports and coding from observational protocols from the Family Life Project. The use of propensity-matched controls to create a control group matched on family of origin variables, study 1 provides evidence that when women with childhood sexual trauma are compared with the matched comparison women, females who experienced childhood sexual trauma show poor functioning, across many domains including interpersonal functioning, relationship quality and parenting. Study 2 provides evidence to support the notion that mothers' childhood sexual trauma is related to child conduct problems in her children. The findings from study 2 reveal that maternal childhood sexual trauma, her depressive symptoms, intimate partner violence, and maternal parenting are closely linked to child conduct problems. The findings from study 3 suggest that intimate partner violence and fathers' alcohol and substance use are related to his harsh intrusive parenting, which in turn is related to child conduct problems. There was evidence that maternal gatekeeping moderates the association between fathers' harsh intrusive parenting and child conduct problems, such that mothers encouragement of fathers high in harsh intrusive parenting to spend greater, as compared to less time with their children, was related to higher levels of conduct problems. In sum, this research highlights the importance of examining multiple family contexts to understanding conduct problems in young children.
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  • In Copyright
  • Cox, Martha
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2014

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