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Child Abuse Negl. 1994 May;18(5):439-53.

Parenting and family stress as mediators of the long-term effects of child abuse.

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  • 1University of Colorado at Boulder 90309.

Abstract

Child abuse is known to be associated with a variety of adult psychological difficulties. However, the level and types of such difficulties may be influenced by variation in other nonabusive aspects of the child-rearing context. This study examines whether variation in perceived parental warmth and in nonabusive family stressors influenced the strength of relationships of women's psychological difficulties to their childhood sexual and/or physical abuse. Child abuse, family stress histories, and perceived parental warmth, as well as current psychological functioning was gathered from a community sample of 259 working women. Perceived parental warmth, childhood stress, and abuse were each separately associated with current functioning. However, as expected, multiple regression analyses showed that parental warmth strongly influenced or mediated the relationship of intrafamilial child abuse to depression and self-esteem levels. In contrast, abuse was associated to PTSD independently of variation in perceived parenting. Finally, parenting mediated initial relationships of childhood stress to each of the adjustment measures. The Discussion focuses on the possibility that there may be several developmental pathways that lead to the array of symptoms associated with child abuse. Some symptoms, such as PTSD, may be most influenced by the abuse itself, while others, such as depression, and low self-esteem may be more impacted by lack of parental warmth. Treatment implications are discussed.

PMID:
8032974
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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