Parent-child interactions and perceptions of mothering among incest survivor mothers and nonabused mothers
Fitzgerald, Monica Marie
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The present study examined whether CSA history (i.e., paternal incest) predicted mothers’ reported parenting efficacy and interactional patterns with their children (ages 3 to 6). Participants were 17 incest survivors and 18 nonabused women and their children from a community sample. Observational and self-report methodology was used. Findings revealed that although incest survivor mothers reported less parenting self-efficacy than did nonabused mothers, their interactional styles with their children during problem-solving tasks were comparable to those of the nonabused mothers within observation (on scales of supportive presence, quality of assistance, maternal confidence, boundary dissolution, and child’s affection towards mother). Incest history predicted less family-of-origin bonding, higher levels of current maternal anxiety and depression, and longer duration in therapy. Findings suggest that incest survivor mothers’ perceptions, or cognitive templates, of parenting may be negatively skewed or unrealistic, given that they do not correspond with their actual parenting behaviors when interacting with their children.