- Depressed mothers believe their children
are to blame
- Depressed mothers are more likely to
pin the blame for problem behaviour in their children on the youngsters
themselves, researchers have found.
- Psychologists Dr Christine Barrowclough,
of Manchester University, and Dr Caroline White, of Royal Manchester Children's
Hospital, compared two groups of mothers - 25 were depressed, 25 non-depressed.
- Both groups had pre-school children with
problem behaviours, and lived in a socially disadvantaged area of South
- When they talked about their children,
these mothers gave lots of explanations for difficult behaviours such as
sleep disturbance, temper tantrums and destructive behaviour.
- However, depressed mothers offered more
reasons that suggested the child was responsible or to blame for the problems,
whereas non-depressed women tended either to blame outside factors or to
treat the problems as normal behaviour.
- Negative attitude
- Dr White said: "Some people argue
that depression alters perception, that depressed people see everything
in a much more negative way.
- "The depressed mothers in our study
tended to see problem behaviour as something that was either innate within
the child, or something that the child was doing on purpose specifically
to get at them.
- "For instance, if a child wet the
bed a non-depressed mother would say he has not been well for the last
couple of days, whereas a depressed mother would say he did it because
he is lazy.
- "Laziness is an innate physical
characteristic that is unlikely to change."
- Dr White said helping parents to understand
the links between their mood and parenting behaviour would be an important
initial step in enabling them to cope better with their children's difficult
- She said problem behaviour could often
result directly from bad parenting skills, in turn a result of a negative
attitude towards life in general.
- The study is published in the British
Journal of Clinical Psychology.