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Childhood abuse and parenting skills: How is it related?

Research shows that self-criticism leads to lower-confidence in parenting abilities in previously maltreated mothers and this is true in non-depressed moms as well as depressed mothers.

sex and relationships Updated: Aug 31, 2015 16:26 IST
Intervention programmes for mothers at-risk should focus on bolstering mothers' self-confidence and not just teach parenting skills. (Shutterstock photo)
Intervention programmes for mothers at-risk should focus on bolstering mothers' self-confidence and not just teach parenting skills. (Shutterstock photo)

Mothers who experienced abuse as children, be it sexual abuse, physical or emotional abuse, and emotional neglect are more critical of their ability to parent successfully, new research has found.

The findings suggest that intervention programmes for mothers at-risk, therefore, should focus on bolstering mothers' self-confidence -- not just teach parenting skills.

"We know that maltreated children can have really low self-esteem," said lead researcher of the study Louisa Michl, doctoral student in the department of psychology at University of Rochester in New York.

"And when they become adults, we have found that some of these moms become highly self-critical about their ability to parent effectively. Research has shown that this type of self-doubt is related to poor parenting -- yelling, hitting, and other kinds of negative parenting behaviours," Michl noted.

This study included mothers who were clinically depressed, as well as those who were not.

"Our research shows that self-criticism leads to lower-confidence in parenting abilities in previously maltreated mothers and this was true in non-depressed moms as well as depressed mothers," Michl pointed out.

However, the researchers believe that beliefs of maternal efficacy are modifiable.

"If a mom who was maltreated as a child can sustain some strong beliefs in her competency as a mom, then it may help break the cycle of abuse and buffer her children against that kind of experience she had. That is where this research has led us so far," Michl said.

The study was published online in the journal Child Maltreatment.