Adolescent mothers


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Adolescent mothers

  1. 1. Journal of Family Psychology © 2011 American Psychological Association2011, Vol. 25, No. 1, 117–126 0893-3200/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0021877 Adolescent Mothers’ Relationships With Their Own Mothers: Impact on Parenting Outcomes Katie Sellers Maureen M. Black Tulane University University of Maryland Neil W. Boris Sarah E. Oberlander Tulane University University of Maryland Leann Myers Tulane University This study examined the relationship between mother– grandmother relationship quality and adolescent mothers’ parenting behaviors using longitudinal multimethod, multi-informant data. Participants were 181 urban, African American adolescent mothers. Self-report data on mother– grandmother relationship conflict and depressive symptoms were collected after delivery and at 6-, 13-, and 24-month follow-up visits. Videotaped observations were used to measure mother– grandmother relationship quality at baseline. Mother– child interactions were videotaped at 6, 13, and 24 months to operationalize parenting. Mixed-model regression methods were used to investigate the relation between mother– grandmother relationships and mother– child interactions. Mother– grandmother relationship quality predicted both negative control and nurturing parenting. Mothers whose own mothers were more direct (both demanding and clear) and who reported low relationship conflict demonstrated low negative control in their parenting. Mothers who demonstrated high levels of individuation (a balance of autonomy and mutuality) and reported low relationship conflict showed high nurturing parenting. The implications of these findings for adolescent health and emotional develop- ment are discussed. Keywords: adolescent parenting, family relations, family conflict, intergenerational relations The children of low-income, African American adoles- However, models of adult parenting often ignore the socio-cent mothers are at high risk for behavior problems and economic distress experienced by many adolescent mothers,impaired social and emotional development (Coley & and variation between adolescent mothers is often over-Chase-Lansdale, 1998; Furstenberg, Brooks-Gunn, & looked (East & Felice, 1996).Chase-Lansdale, 1989). Adolescent mothers are less likely Adolescent mothers rarely parent alone, particularly sincethan adult mothers to provide the kind of supportive and the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Op-sensitive parenting that fosters social and emotional com- portunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, whichpetence (Berlin, Brady-Smith, & Brooks-Gunn, 2002). requires adolescent mothers to live with a parent or guardian to qualify for public assistance. Maternal grandmothers are often key figures in rearing the children of low-income, This article was published Online First January 10, 2011. African American adolescent mothers (Davis, 2002; Ober- Katie Sellers and Neil W. Boris, Department of Community lander, Black, & Starr, 2007; Voight, Hans, & Bernstein,Health Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and 1996). Although adolescent mothers identify maternalTropical Medicine; Maureen M. Black, Department of Pediatrics, grandmothers as their greatest source of support, grand-University of Maryland School of Medicine; Sarah E. Oberlander, mothers are also recognized as a common source of conflictDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Med- (Davis & Rhodes, 1994; Nitz, Ketterlinus, & Brandt, 1995).icine; Leann Myers, Department of Biostatistics, Tulane Univer- Conflict in coresiding multigenerational households issity School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. common (Apfel & Seitz, 1991). Conflict between adoles- This study was supported by grant MCJ-240301 from the Ma- cent parents and their mothers may, in fact, predate the birthternal and Child Health Research Program. The authors extendtheir appreciation to other members of the Three Generation team of the child, and like any other major event, the birth of theand to the families who participated in the project. child may either up- or down-regulate existing mother- Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to daughter conflict. In some cases, young grandmothers areKatie Sellers, 1632 Nicholson Street, NW, Washington, DC simultaneously parenting children of their own; the birth of20011. E-mail: another child into the family may increase stress and breed 117
  2. 2. 118 SELLERS, BLACK, BORIS, OBERLANDER, AND MYERSresentment (Chase-Lansdale, Brooks-Gunn, & Zamsky, tially, but the goal is clearly to transfer responsibility to the1994). Grandmothers of any age may feel their success as a adolescent mother once she has become a competent parent.parent is threatened when their child becomes an adolescent In this study, we were guided by the parental apprenticeparent (Kaplan, 1996). Conflict arises when adolescent model. Apfel and Seitz (1991) argued that this arrangementmothers and grandmothers disagree over caregiving or dis- would allow for successful achievement of adolescentcipline techniques (Apfel & Seitz, 1991). goals, such as education, because grandmothers would ini- The quality of the mother– grandmother relationship may tially provide substantial support with child care. The modelinfluence the young mother’s parenting in several different would also allow for optimal adolescent parenting qualityways. Belsky’s (1984) process model of the determinants of and sense of competence, because grandmothers providedparenting described the importance of the parent’s personal support and mentorship. Young mothers could practicepsychological resources, the contextual sources of support caregiving and gain a sense of autonomy in a safe, support-and stress, and the child’s characteristics. In multigenera- ive environment (Apfel & Seitz, 1991).tional families, the mother– grandmother relationship plays The parental apprentice model includes an implicit, butan important role in the first two categories of determinants. unstudied, emphasis on the quality of the adolescentThe grandmother’s parenting of the mother influences the mother– grandmother relationship (Oberlander et al., 2007).mother’s maturity and emotional well-being. In addition, The impact of the extended family on adolescent mothers’the grandmother may serve as a coparent (thereby taking adjustment and acquisition of parenting skills may varyover a portion of the marital partner role) or at least a major depending on the quality of the mother– grandmother rela-provider of support, stress, or both in the young mother’s tionship. Just as conflict between two parents can detractsocial network. from the quality of parenting in two-parent families (Grych In this study, we looked at the nature of the relationship & Fincham, 1990), mother– grandmother conflict may in-between mother and grandmother shortly after the birth of fluence young mothers’ parenting when grandmothers arethe child, as well as the degree of mother– grandmother substantially involved in child rearing.conflict over the course of the first 2 years of the child’s life. Family climate, including both conflict and support, is aThis design allowed us to investigate the resources the clear predictor of parenting among adult samples. For ex-mother and grandmother had to address conflict as it arose. ample, Belsky, Jaffee, Sligo, Woodward, and Silva (2005) Several mechanisms exist through which shared caregiv- studied family climate in a sample of adult parents in Newing may detract from adolescent parenting skills. The grand- Zealand. Findings revealed that a supportive parental rela-mother may perform child-rearing tasks without allowing tionship during childhood was associated with warm andthe adolescent mother to develop parenting skills, or the sensitive parenting to the next generation. Extant researchadolescent mother may focus her energies on the tasks of does not fully explore this phenomenon among adolescentadolescence without devoting much effort to the tasks of mothers, particularly after the passage of PRWORA, whenparenthood. Adolescent mothers with conflicted relation-ships in their social networks are at risk for low levels of adolescent mothers are mandated to coreside with adults.parenting skills and maternal adjustment (Nitz et al., 1995; Among families such as those in this study, it is difficult toVoight et al., 1996). Parental conflict has been linked to disentangle the intergenerational transmission of parentingpoor child adjustment, mediated through parenting skills from the simultaneous conflict and support present in copa-(Jones, Shaffer, Forehand, Brody, & Armistead, 2003). renting situations. Most data on the quality of adolescent Although shared caregiving may enable young mothers to mother– grandmother relationships are from cross-sectionalaccomplish the tasks of adolescence (Gordon, Chase- studies (Caldwell, Antonucci, & Jackson, 1998; Davis &Lansdale, & Brooks-Gunn, 2004), it may interfere with the Rhodes, 1994; Davis, Rhodes, & Hamilton-Leaks, 1997;acquisition of parenting skills (Chase-Lansdale et al., 1994; Wakschlag, Chase-Lansdale, & Brooks-Gunn, 1996),Spieker & Bensley, 1994; Unger & Cooley, 1992). In an thereby limiting the ability to estimate the impact of conflicteffort to understand family adaptation to adolescent parent- on adolescent mothers’ parenting (see Jones and colleagueshood, Apfel and Seitz (1991) conducted qualitative inter- as an exception; Dorsey, Forehand, & Brody, 2007; Jones,views with a sample of African American adolescent moth- Forehand, Dorsey, Foster, & Brody, 2005; Jones et al.,ers and grandmothers living in an inner-city environment. 2003). Furthermore, there may be significant differences inFour models were discerned on the basis of division of families for whom risks such as poverty, neighborhoodcaregiving tasks. First, in the parental replacement model, violence, or minority status complicate child rearing; thegrandmothers assume primary responsibility for child rear- existing literature focuses primarily on such high-risk fam-ing. Second, in the parental supplement model, mothers and ilies, and generalizability from these studies is limited.grandmothers, or other coresiding family members, share Our goal in this study is to understand how adolescentchild care responsibilities. Third, in the supported primary mother– grandmother relationship quality measured in theparent model, adolescent mothers assume primary respon- immediate postpartum period is associated with adolescentsibility for child rearing, with only occasional assistance mothers’ parenting behaviors at 6, 13, and 24 months post-from grandmothers. Finally, Apfel and Seitz proposed a partum. We hypothesized that conflict in the adolescentparental apprentice model, in which grandmothers mentor mother– grandmother relationship would predict more neg-adolescent mothers to become satisfied and competent. ative control and less nurturing parenting over the first 2Grandmothers play an important role in child rearing ini- years of the child’s life.
  3. 3. ADOLESCENT MOTHER–GRANDMOTHER RELATIONSHIPS 119 Method questions were asked through headphones (to accommodate low levels of literacy) on the computer and on the screen, We used data from a larger study of adolescent mothers and respondents used a mouse to indicate their in multigenerational families (Black et al., 2006;Black, Siegel, Abel, & Bentley, 2001). Adolescent mothers Measureswere recruited shortly after delivery in three urban hospitalsin Baltimore, Maryland. Eligibility criteria included The quality of the mother– grandmother relationship wasyounger than age 18 at delivery, primiparous, African measured through a self-report questionnaire and an obser-American, low income (defined as eligible for Special Sup- vational procedure conducted at baseline.plemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI; Furman & Buh-Children—family income at or below 185% of the U.S. rmester, 1985). Self-reported conflict was measured usingPoverty Income Guidelines), and no chronic illness that an adapted version of the NRI, which was administered atwould interfere with parenting or adolescent development. all four time points: baseline, 6 months, 13 months, and 24Infants of eligible mothers had to be full term (37 weeks or months. The NRI assesses the adolescent mother’s percep-more) with a birth weight of more than 2,500 grams and no tions of supportive and negative interactions with her owncongenital problems. None of the infants required neonatal mother. Conflict was measured using three items (“Howintensive care services. much do you and your mom get upset with or mad at each Eligible mothers were given a brochure explaining the other?” “How much do you and your mom disagree andstudy and, if interested, enrolled in a randomized controlled quarrel?” “How much do you and your mom argue withtrial of a home-based intervention to promote positive par- each other?”) The 5-point Likert-type response scale rangesenting and adolescent development (Black et al., 2006). One from 1 (little or none) to 5 (the most). The Cronbach’s alphahundred eighty-one mothers (more than 83% of eligible for the Conflict subscale with this sample ranged from .62 atmothers) completed the baseline evaluation, which was baseline to .76 at 24 months (.69 at 6 and 13 months,administered between 2 and 4 weeks after delivery, and respectively).were randomized into intervention and control groups. Eli- Scale of Intergenerational Relationship Quality (SIRQ).gible mothers who agreed and mothers who did not agree to The quality of the mother– grandmother relationship wasparticipate did not differ in age or education. Consent forms measured during a baseline observation by using the SIRQ.were completed at baseline by all participating mothers. The SIRQ yields four factors: Emotional Closeness, Posi-Mothers were compensated for evaluation visits. Institu- tive Affect, Grandmother Directness, and Individuation.tional review boards of the participating institutions ap- The SIRQ was developed for use with low-income, ethnicproved the protocol. minority mothers and grandmothers and standardized Families in the intervention group received home visits among African American families in Baltimore (for details,every other week over the 1st year postpartum to promote see Wakschlag et al., 1996). Adolescent mothers and grand-healthy adolescent development and positive parenting. Ad- mothers were videotaped for 10 –15 min while engaging inolescent mothers learned what to expect in their infant’s 1st two tasks. In the first task, participants sorted cards ofyear of life and how to provide developmentally enriching child-related tasks on the basis of who was responsible. Inactivities. The intervention used a mentorship model and the second task, they chose personally contentious topicswas delivered by two college-educated African American and discussed them.women in their 20s who were single mothers, each raising The Emotional Closeness factor consists of the connect-a preschool child and living independently. Grandmothers edness, warmth, mutual concern, and emotional opennessand other family members were encouraged to participate in demonstrated during the disagreement. Positive Affect isthe sessions as often as possible. Families in the control rated on the basis of the degree to which the dyad displaysgroup received no intervention and no contact other than the an upbeat tone and is animated in the discussion. Grand-evaluation visits. Intervention status was taken into account mother Directness is characterized by the grandmother’sin the data analysis for this study. expectation of maturity from the young mother and the Project staff conducted baseline and follow-up evaluation nonconfrontational but assertive manner in which the grand-in the participants’ homes. Of the 181 mothers enrolled in mother demands mature behavior from the mother. Individ-the study, 148 (82%), 127 (70%), and 146 (81%) completed uation refers to a balance of autonomy and mutuality in thethe videotaped parenting assessments at 6, 13, and 24 discussion: A young mother who is able to assert herselfmonths, respectively. Of adolescent mothers, 92% com- positively and nondefensively receives a higher rating forpleted at least one follow-up evaluation. The mothers in the individuation.analysis sample and the mothers lost to follow-up did not The coders in this study were trained by a member ofdiffer in maternal age, education, infant birth weight, or Wakschlag’s team and followed coding procedures outlinedinfant gender. by Wakschlag et al. (1996). They established interrater Data were collected via standardized questionnaires and reliability and maintained it through weekly reliabilityvideotaped observational procedures. Questionnaires were checks. Fifteen percent of the observations were doubleadministered by means of a laptop computer to increase coded, and reliability exceeded 85%. Internal consistenciesprivacy and decrease social desirability bias (Kissinger, for the four scales were .78 (Emotional Closeness), .68Rice, Farley, Trim, Jewitt, Margovio, & Martin, 1999). The (Positive Affect), .85 (Grandmother Directness), and .74
  4. 4. 120 SELLERS, BLACK, BORIS, OBERLANDER, AND MYERS(Individuation). The correlations among the factors ranged mediating of the environment, genuine visual regard and mir-from .028 (p .71) to .576 (p .001) and were similar to roring of the child’s feeling states), negative affect, and behav-those reported by Wakschlag et al. ior toward the child (including angry or hostile tone of voice, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, Ward, Mendelson, displeasure, criticism, intrusiveness, and inconsistency). TheMock, & Erbaugh, 1961). Maternal depressive symptoms PCERA yields scale scores for nurturance and negative con-were assessed by using the BDI, a 21-item scale that is trol. Parent nurturance was based on six items (growth foster-widely used and well validated among adolescents and ing, enthusiasm, social initiative, child-oriented language, ver-adults. The BDI was administered to participating mothers balizations, involvement with the child). The interraterat all four assessments. The internal consistency of this scale reliability was .95, and the coefficient alpha was .88. Scoresis reflected in a Cronbach’s alpha of .82 (Bennett, Ambro- were averaged and ranged from minimal nurturance (lowsini, Bianchi, Barnett, Metz, & Rabinovich, 1997). score) to child-oriented nurturance (high score). Negative con- Parent–Child Early Relational Assessment (PCERA; Clark, trol was based on four items (hostility, rigidity, intrusivity,1985). Parenting observations were conducted at each of the physical contact). The interrater reliability was .92, and thefollow-up visits (6, 13, and 24 months). Two parenting vari- coefficient alpha was .77. Scores were averaged and rangedables, nurturance and negative control, were measured using a from rigidity (low score) to flexible and unintrusive (highmodified version of the PCERA (Black, Hutcheson, Dubowitz, score). Raters were masked to data on families and trained toStarr, & Berenson-Howard, 1996). The PCERA provides an reach at least 90% agreement. Interrater reliability was contin-assessment of both the affective and the behavioral quality of uously assessed through weekly checks.mother– child interactions. The mother and child are video-taped for 10 min of interaction. At 6 months, mothers and Data Analysisinfants play with a toy, at 13 months they engage in a mealtimeinteraction, and at 24 months they participate in a structured Descriptive statistics on the predictor, covariate, and out-play interaction with a picture book and a puzzle. The modified come variables were calculated and appear in Table 1. Corre-version of the PCERA used in this study was found to have lations between the two measures of mother– grandmotherstrong psychometric properties in a similar sample of low- relationship quality (SIRQ and NRI) were examined and ap-income, African American mothers (Black, Hutcheson, pear in Table 2. Correlations between maternal age at baselineDubowitz, & Berenson-Howard, 1994). and mother– grandmother relationship quality (each subscale The videotaped interactions were coded for the amount, of the SIRQ) were calculated; none were significant. Indepen-duration, and intensity of positive involvement (including sen- dent t tests were used to test for differences between thesitivity and responsiveness to the child’s cues, structuring and intervention group and the comparison group on the followingTable 1Descriptives: Predictors, Covariates, and Outcomes Measures N Min Max M SDMother–grandmother conflict (self-reported) Baseline 179 1.00 5.00 1.78 0.74 6 months 141 1.00 5.00 2.07 0.89 13 months 120 1.00 5.00 2.19 0.87 24 months 141 1.00 5.00 2.09 1.01Mother–grandmother relationship (Scale of Intergenerational Relationship Quality), baseline Emotional Closeness 177 3.00 27.00 17.30 3.49 Positive Affect 177 4.00 12.00 7.76 1.63 Grandmother Directness 176 3.00 15.00 7.97 2.58 Individuation 176 3.00 15.00 7.72 2.52Maternal depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) Baseline 177 .00 45.00 11.12 7.83 6 months 137 .00 37.00 9.15 8.12 13 months 123 .00 63.00 7.33 10.09 24 months 139 .00 54.00 8.81 9.52Maternal and child characteristics Maternal age, baseline 181 13.54 17.98 16.33 0.98 Maternal grade, baseline 164 7 12 10.17 1.14 Child age (days) 181 2.00 42.00 16.73 8.04 Child gender (% male) 181 50.30Parenting outcomes (Parent–Child Early Relational Assessment) Negative control, 6 months 144 3.00 5.00 4.29 0.44 Parental nurturance, 6 months 144 1.00 4.75 2.86 0.74 Negative control, 13 months 117 1.67 5.00 4.15 0.50 Parental nurturance, 13 months 117 1.00 5.00 2.30 0.62 Negative control, 24 months 142 3.25 5.00 4.37 0.37 Parental nurturance, 24 months 142 1.50 4.75 3.06 0.66
  5. 5. ADOLESCENT MOTHER–GRANDMOTHER RELATIONSHIPS 121Table 2Correlations: Mother–Grandmother Relationship Quality and Conflict Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 81. SIRQ Emotional Closeness r — .25 .49 .58 .02 .11 .02 .18 p .00 .00 .00 .83 .20 .83 .042. SIRQ Positive Affect r — .11 .03 .09 .03 .04 .07 p .14 .71 .23 .75 .63 .393. SIRQ Grandmother Directness r — .33 .05 .02 .03 .07 p .00 .51 .82 .74 .414. SIRQ Individuation r — .05 .18 .03 .12 p .49 .04 .76 .145. Conflict, baseline r — .45 .48 .27 p .00 .00 .006. Conflict, 6 months r — .43 .28 p .00 .007. Conflict, 13 months r — .31 p .008. Conflict, 24 months r — p p .05. p .01.variables: maternal age, maternal education, mother– Resultsgrandmother relationship quality (four SIRQ subscales),mother– grandmother conflict (NRI), maternal depressive Mothers ranged in age from 13.5 to 17.9 years at deliverysymptoms (BDI), negative control in parenting, and nurturing and from 13.6 to 18.0 years at baseline (Table 1). Theparenting. No significant differences were found, except for the infants were between 2 and 42 days old. The last gradeSIRQ Positive Affect subscale, t(175) 2.775, p .006, completed by the mothers ranged from 7th to 12th grade,which was not associated with the parenting outcomes that are with a mean of 10th grade. The number of male (91) andthe focus of this study. female (90) children were approximately equal. At baseline, Mixed-model regression methods, implemented by PROC grandmothers were a mean age of 39 years old (SD 4.74)MIXED (Version 9.1; SAS Inc., Cary, NC), were used to and had a mean of 12 years of education (SD 1.85).analyze the predictors, covariates, and outcomes simultane- Grandmothers reported mean household incomes betweenously (Littel, Milliken, Stroup, & Wolfinger, 1996). The $10,000 and $20,000 per year. All adolescent mothers livedmixed-model approach allowed the analysis to account for the with grandmothers at baseline, and at 24 months postpar-longitudinal nature of the data, including measurement of tum, 73% (n 108) of adolescent mothers remained in theconflict at all four assessments and parenting behavior at the household of origin.three follow-up assessments. First, unadjusted effects were The amount of conflict in the mother– grandmother rela-estimated by performing regressions with one predictor at a tionship changed over time, according to the mothers’ self-time. The primary predictors were conflict and relationship report. Conflict increased from baseline to the 6-monthquality. Time was entered into all models as a covariate. assessment and from the 6-month assessment to the 13-Because relationship quality and parenting behavior are related month assessment, with a significant difference betweento maternal depressive symptoms (Caldwell et al., 1998; Davis baseline and 6 months. Conflict at the 24-month assessment& Rhodes, 1994; Davis et al., 1997; Dorsey et al., 2007; Jones was very similar to that at the 13-month assessment. Con-et al., 2005; Lovejoy, Graczyk, O’Hare, & Neuman, 2000), we flict at any given time point was highly correlated withincluded a measure of depressive symptoms at each time point conflict at any other time point (all ps .01), indicatingas a covariate. Maternal age, infant age, and maternal educa- stability within cases despite the general upward trend be-tion were also considered as covariates. Independent variables tween baseline and the 13-month assessment.were added to the model in a stepwise fashion, based on the Maternal self-reports of conflict over the 24-month periodstrength of their unadjusted effects on parenting, to determine were not significantly correlated with any of the SIRQwhether conflict and relationship quality predicted parenting subscales, with two exceptions (Table 2). Individuation onbehavior and which covariates added to model’s explanatory the SIRQ (measured at baseline) was significantly nega-power. tively correlated with conflict at the 6-month assessment
  6. 6. 122 SELLERS, BLACK, BORIS, OBERLANDER, AND MYERS(r .18, p .039). Emotional closeness (measured at scales were univariately associated with negative control:baseline) was significantly negatively correlated with con- Individuation, Emotional Closeness, and Grandmother Di-flict at the 24-month assessment (r .18, p .038). rectness (Table 3). Emotional Closeness and IndividuationThus, mothers who were more individuated from their own were no longer significant predictors of negative controlmothers at baseline were less likely to report being embed- after adjustment for Grandmother Directness. The otherded in highly conflicted relationships 6 months later, and variables were retained in the final model. No interactionsmothers who were emotionally closer to their own mothers were significantly related to parenting behavior. The bestat baseline were less likely to show high levels of conflict 2 model predicting negative control included conflict, theyears later. Emotional closeness was highly correlated with SIRQ Grandmother Directness subscale, and maternal age.positive affect, grandmother directness, and individuation. Mothers demonstrated less negative control in their parent-Grandmother directness and individuation were also highly ing if their own mothers were more direct (demanding andcorrelated. clear), if they reported little conflict, and if they were older. Ratings of observed parenting (both negative control and Stepwise modeling resulted in a final model for nurturingnurturance) on the PCERA changed significantly from the parenting that included conflict, individuation, and maternal13-month assessment to the 24-month assessment. On av- age (Table 4). Mothers who reported less conflict in theirerage, mothers significantly relaxed the use of negative relationships with their own mothers and those who werecontrol techniques and increased their nurturing parenting more individuated from their own mothers at the baselinebetween the 13-month assessment and the 24-month assess- assessment demonstrated more nurturing parenting. Olderment. mothers also showed higher levels of nurturing parenting. Unadjusted effects of each covariate, including time, Intervention status did not show a significant effect eitherwere examined (Tables 3 and 4); covariates that were asso- directly or by interaction and was therefore excluded fromciated with the parenting outcome (p .20) were retained the final model.for assessment in the multivariable regression model. Themultivariate models were fitted using forward stepwise pro- Discussioncedures, with the criterion for entry defined as p .20 andthe criterion for retention defined as p .05. Interactions Mother– grandmother relationship quality predicted bothwere also considered as potential predictors but were not negative control and nurturing parenting. Mothers who re-significant. ported lower levels of conflict with their own mothers, but Mother– grandmother relationship quality significantly whose mothers were demanding and clear with them (mea-predicted parenting behavior. The association between re- sured by the SIRQ Grandmother Directness subscale), dem-lationship quality and parenting behavior did not change onstrated lower levels of negative control in their parenting.over time, thus we did not include time in the final model. Low levels of conflict and higher levels of individuation inThe maternal age variable, however, varied across time the mother– grandmother relationship also predicted higherpoints, and thus accounts for the lapse in time over the levels of nurturing parenting. Maternal age predicted par-course of the study. Conflict and three of the SIRQ sub- enting as expected: Older mothers used less negative controlTable 3Regression Coefficients: Conflict, Relationship Quality, and Negative Control in Parenting Dependent variable: Negative control (PCERA) Regression coefficient Regression coefficient Variable (unadjusted) p (adjusted) pAge Maternal 13.17 .00a 0.06 .00 Infant 4.48 .04aMaternal education (grade level) 5.38 .02aIntervention group status 0.01 .93Conflict Baseline 9.81 .00a 0.11 .00 Concurrent 0.49 .48SIRQ Emotional Closeness 5.24 .02a Positive Affect 0.01 .92 Grandmother Directness 8.54 .00a 0.03 .00 Individuation 6.89 .01aMaternal depressive symptoms Baseline 0.51 .48 Concurrent 0.41 .52Note. PCERA Parent–Child Early Relational Assessment; SIRQ Scale of Intergeneration Relationship Quality.a Entered into model (p .20). p .05. p .01.
  7. 7. ADOLESCENT MOTHER–GRANDMOTHER RELATIONSHIPS 123Table 4Regression Coefficients: Conflict, Relationship Quality, and Nurturing Parenting Dependent variable: Nurturing parenting (PCERA) Regression coefficient Regression coefficient Variable (unadjusted) p (adjusted) pAge Maternal 16.11 .0001a 0.10 .00 Infant 7.85 .01aMaternal education (grade) 7.28 .01aIntervention group status 0.91 .34Conflict Baseline 4.45 .04a .11 .04 Conflict 0.03 .85SIRQ Emotional Closeness 11.22 .00a Positive Affect 0.99 .32 Grandmother Directness 3.13 .08a Individuation 19.53 .0001a 0.07 .0001Maternal depressive symptoms Baseline 0.19 0.66 Concurrent 1.63 0.20aNote. PCERA Parent–Child Early Relational Assessment; SIRQ Scale of Intergeneration Relationship Quality.a Entered into model (p .20). p .05. p .01.and demonstrated more nurturing parenting with their chil- mother who has achieved the level of individuation requireddren. for her to be the responsible parent of the infant. This study The finding that the quality of the mother– grandmother found that more grandmother directness predicted less neg-relationship predicts the quality of the young mother’s par- ative control in the young mother’s parenting and that moreenting is consistent with previous research with this sample individuation predicted more nurturing parenting by the(Hess, Papas, & Black, 2002). On average, the mothers in young mother. Thus, the combination of grandmother di-this sample reported lower levels of conflict than their peers rectness and individuation, in the context of low levels ofin a mostly White, middle- to upper-class sample previously conflict in the mother– grandmother relationship, which ap-described in the literature: Mothers in this study reported proximates the parental apprentice model, yields the mostconflict ranging from 1.78 (at baseline) to 2.19 (at 13 positive parenting over the course of the child’s first 2 yearsmonths) compared with 2.3 among their more affluent peers of life.(Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). Yet some mothers in this The young mother’s individuation, in particular, predictssample reported conflict levels at the maximum end of the how nurturing her parenting will be. Individuation is dem-scale (up to 5). Young mothers who are embedded in highly onstrated by adolescents who have at least partiallyconflicted relationships with their own mothers struggle to achieved one of the fundamental tasks of adolescent devel-provide a nurturing presence and avoid negative ways of opment: transforming the parent– child relationship into ancontrolling their infants’ behavior. Spencer, Kalil, Larson, autonomous, peerlike relationship. Young mothers whoSpieker, and Gilchrist (2000) found that conflict between have negotiated this task before becoming parents may beadolescent mothers and their own mothers is associated with more psychologically ready to provide the kind of respon-increased parenting stress. Dorsey et al. (2007) found that sive and consistent parenting that supports healthy devel-conflict between coparents predicted parenting behavior opment in children than mothers who have not individuatedboth directly and indirectly, through maternal psychological (Wakschlag et al., 1996).distress. Another study indicated that conflict in the mother– Maternal age was not correlated with degree of individ-grandmother relationship had a significant association with uation, even though those who demonstrated individuationthe young mother’s psychological functioning, but that sup- reflected a more mature mother– grandmother relationship.port did not (Davis & Rhodes, 1994). Previous work using the SIRQ Individuation factor found The significance of grandmother directness and individ- that it correlated significantly with the mother’s grade level,uation in predicting positive parenting behaviors supports but not with her age (Wakschlag et al., 1996). Individuationthe Apfel and Seitz (1991) concept of parental apprentice. may be a better measure of maturity or psychological read-The hallmark of the parental apprentice model is that the iness to parent than chronological age. This finding is ofgrandmother very explicitly guides the young mother’s par- particular interest in light of the work of Geronimus (1992),enting, but does so in the interest of developing the young Burton (1990), and others who have suggested that imma-mother as the responsible primary parent of the infant. This turity rather than age compromises young mothers’ parent-model requires both a direct grandmother who is demanding ing capabilities. This study suggested that the quality of theand clear in her expectations of the new mother and a young mother– grandmother relationship discriminates between
  8. 8. 124 SELLERS, BLACK, BORIS, OBERLANDER, AND MYERSyoung mothers who are ready to adopt the parenting behav- Conclusionsiors that foster healthy child development and those for These findings have clear implications for adolescentwhom teen pregnancy is one among several risk factors that health care. To improve parenting outcomes among youngcompromise their health and developmental outcomes mothers, it would be helpful to determine whether adoles-(Wakschlag & Hans, 2005). cent mothers have developed a sense of autonomy while Grandmother Directness predicted less reliance on nega- still being able to rely on their own mother for support.tive control. This SIRQ subscale is similar to the demand- Adolescent mothers who have achieved a sense of auton-ingness dimension of Baumrind’s (1971) parenting styles omy or individuation may be ripe for dyadic intervention toand is thus a critical component of authoritative parenting. support positive parenting. Few interventions have specifi-Grandmother Directness is characterized by a nonconfron- cally targeted adolescent mothers and grandmothers, andtational firmness in parenting that is subsequently adopted those interventions that have (e.g., McDonald et al., 2009)by the young mother to guide her child’s behavior without have not found clear effects on adolescent mothers’ parent-using a hostile tone or negative physical contact. ing behavior. Mothers who are embedded in difficult rela- We found that self-reported conflict increased over the tionships with their own mothers may need more intensive1st year of parenting, which confirms what others have family intervention that could potentially affect the mother–reported (Gee & Rhodes, 1999). The self-reported measure grandmother relationship and the mother– child relation-of conflict was generally not related to the observational ship. Adding a mother– grandmother negotiation skills com-measure of mother– grandmother relationship quality, with ponent to a home visit intervention may be a relativelytwo exceptions. Individuation was negatively correlated inexpensive way to increase a young mother’s ability towith conflict at the 6-month assessment, and Emotional incorporate new parenting practices in a shared caregivingCloseness was negatively related to conflict at the 24-month environment (Black et al., 2001). This study emphasized theassessment. The self-reported conflict measure clearly mea- importance of observing interpersonal communication insures an aspect of the mother– grandmother relationship not addition to relying on self-report of relationship conflict.captured by the SIRQ observational measures and predicted Observational measures have been underused with Africanboth nurturing and negative control in the young mother’s American families in general (McLoyd, Cauce, Takeuchi, &parenting. Wilson, 2000), and have clear advantages in measuring Prior research has suggested that a high level of conflict constructs that are prone to self-report bias. The SIRQin a young mother’s relationship with her own mother may (Wakschlag et al., 1996) holds particular promise for usehave negative consequences for her psychological adjust- with African American adolescent mothers and grandmoth-ment, the quality of her parenting, her child’s social and ers and should be used to test whether a young mother’semotional development, or all of these (Apfel & Seitz, degree of individuation determines her ability to put parent-1991; Caldwell et al., 1998; Dorsey et al., 2007). Few ing education into practice. Future research should investi-studies, however, have measured relationship quality with gate characteristics of the grandmother that may influenceboth self-report and observed measures, and fewer still have mother– grandmother relationship quality and the adoles-used in-home observations of young mothers’ parenting to cent mother’s parenting.assess the potential impact of relationship quality amongindividuals who share caregiving duties. The use of multi- Referencesmethod, multi-informant data is an important strength of Apfel, N. H., & Seitz, V. (1991). Four models of adolescentthis study. mother– grandmother relationships in Black inner-city families. Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, 40, 421– 429.Limitations Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. De- velopmental Psychology, 4(1, Pt. 2), 1–103. The narrowly defined, demographically homogeneous Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J.sample limits our findings’ generalizability, but the group (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561–571.represented by the sample is an important, high-risk group Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: A process study. Of the respondents, 19% assessed at baseline Child Development, 55, 83–96.dropped out or missed their final assessment. This attrition Belsky, J., Jaffee, S. R., Sligo, J., Woodward, L., & Silva, P. A.rate is not high, particularly for high-risk samples, and (2005). Intergenerational transmission of warm-sensitive-adolescent mothers lost to attrition did not differ from stimulating parenting: A prospective study of mothers and fa-participating mothers on intervention status or baseline age, thers of 3-year-olds. Child Development, 76, 384 –, or employment. However, the respondents who Bennett, D., Ambrosini, P., Bianchi, M., Barnett, D., Metz, C., &dropped out may differ in some unknown way from those Rabinovich, H. (1997). Relationship of Beck Depression Inven- tory factors to depression among adolescents. Journal of Affec-who did not. A strength of the mixed-models analysis used tive Disorders, 45, 127– this study is that it can accommodate randomly missing Berlin, L. J., Brady-Smith, C., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2002). Linksdata; however, it cannot adjust for inherent differences between childbearing age and observed maternal behaviors withbetween those who complete the assessments and those who 14-month-olds in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluationdo not. Project. Infant Mental Health Journal, 23, 104 –129.
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