Parenting mediates associations between intimate partner violence at different life stages and toddler social–emotional problems

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Child Maltreatment


Background: Researchers have linked parent experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) to engagement in more negative and less positive parenting behaviors with their own children. This parenting behavior is associated with more negative child social-emotional outcomes. There is little research examining the impact of exposure to IPV during childhood on subsequent parenting and child outcomes in the next generation. This study aimed to better understand the complex relationship between IPV, parenting, and child social-emotional development among mothers of toddler-aged children, using both mothers’ self-reported and observed parenting. Method: This study utilized longitudinal data from an economically disadvantaged, racially diverse sample of 120 women who participated in data collection across the perinatal period, until children were 2 years of age. Measures included self-reported and observed parenting, mother-reported IPV history, and mother-report of toddler social-emotional difficulties. Results: Childhood exposure to IPV predicted observed parenting problems, which in turn predicted greater toddler social-emotional problems. Conversely, adult experiences of IPV predicted self-reported parenting difficulties, which predicted greater toddler social-emotional problems. Summary: Findings suggest that exposure to IPV at different time points may influence parenting in different ways, representing unique pathways between maternal IPV experiences and child social-emotional difficulties

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