Objective: This study examined the association between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and parenting outcomes including parenting stress, feelings of competence and discipline strategies. Maternal depression and current partner violence were hypothesized to be mediators of the association between CSA and parenting. Method: This study is based on secondary data analysis of archived data. The participants were 263 primiparous mothers (107 with a history of CSA and 156 comparison mothers recruited from a prenatal clinic prior to the birth of their first child. Mothers were interviewed twice: once when they were between 28 and 32 weeks gestation and again when their child was between 2 and 4 years of age. During the first interview, women were asked about childhood experiences of sexual abuse. During their second interview, they were asked about current symptoms of pathology and experiences with partner violence and parenting beliefs and practices. Results: Structural Equation Modeling indicated that the relationship between CSA and punitive discipline was mediated by maternal depression and current partner violence. CSA was associated with higher maternal depression and higher partner violence. CSA, maternal depression, and current partner violence were associated with more negative parental perceptions and higher punitive discipline. Once maternal depression and current partner violence were in the model, the relationship between CSA and parenting outcomes was no different from zero. Conclusion: These results highlight the risks associated with CSA for parenting outcomes and suggest two potential pathways for this increased risk.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health