Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks

Committee Member

Dean Lauterbach

Committee Member

Angela Staples

Committee Member

Sheri Madigan


Experiences of interpersonal trauma and symptoms of PTSD greatly impact the ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships, which is especially problematic during the perinatal period due to the formation of the mother-child relationship. Interpersonal trauma and symptoms of PTSD present considerable risk for the emergence of a concerning class of “atypical” maternal behaviors (e.g., contradictory communication, sexualized/role reversed behavior, and severe withdrawal) that have serious implications for child social-emotional development. However, past research has focused primarily on how maternal experiences of childhood maltreatment and, to a lesser extent, PTSD symptom severity, predict atypical parenting behaviors. The present study aimed to better understand the association between both child- and adulthood experiences of interpersonal trauma and PTSD symptoms, and atypical parenting behaviors. One hundred twenty women from a longitudinal study that spanned from the third trimester of pregnancy through 3-years postpartum were utilized. Experiences of childhood maltreatment and intimate partner violence (IPV) were assessed during pregnancy. Atypical parenting behaviors were coded from mother-infant interactions 1-year postpartum. Bivariate associations between experiences of interpersonal trauma, prenatal PTSD symptoms, and atypical parenting behavior were few in number. Profiles of interpersonal trauma experiences and prenatal PTSD symptoms were identified using latent profile analysis. Subsequent analyses indicated that experiencing multiple types of childhood maltreatment and prenatal IPV predicted later atypical parenting behavior. Reported PTSD symptoms across clusters, as well as having less education and younger age, presented risk for atypical parenting behavior. Results increase understanding about individual differences in prenatal risk for the development of atypical parenting behavior and have implications for interventions aimed at preventing or reducing parenting problems.

Included in

Psychology Commons