The primary aim of the current study was to examine self-criticism as a potential mechanism mediating the relation between mothers’ own childhood maltreatment history and changes in subsequent maternal efficacy beliefs in a diverse sample of low-income mothers with and without major depressive disorder. Longitudinal data were drawn from a larger randomized clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of interpersonal psychotherapy for depression among low-income mothers and their 12-month-old infant. Results indicated that higher levels of maltreatment in childhood led mothers to hold more self-critical judgments in adulthood. Additionally, mothers who had experienced more extensive childhood maltreatment histories perceived themselves as less efficacious in their role as mother. Structural equation modeling indicated that self-criticism mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and mothers’ decreased perceived competency in her maternal role from when her child was an infant to the more demanding toddler years. Finally, this relationship held over and above the influence of mothers’ depressive diagnostic status. Directions for future research and the clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
- childhood maltreatment
- maternal efficacy