Maternal parenting behaviors during a mother-infant play interaction were examined in a sample of 160 low-income mothers and their 15-month-old infants. Maternal responsive/didactic, intrusive, and negative behaviors were coded from videotapes and examined in relation to mothers' age, marital status, stressful life events, and depressive symptoms, and infants' cognitive scores at 15 and 25 months. Younger maternal age and increases in stressful life events were associated with increases in mothers' negative behaviors whereas being married was positively associated with mothers' responsive/didactic behaviors and inversely associated with their negative and intrusive behaviors. Mothers' depressive symptoms were inversely associated with both responsive/didactic and intrusive behaviors and predicted lower cognitive scores in infants at 15 months, but not 25 months. Maternal responsive/didactic behaviors predicted infant cognitive scores at both ages after controlling for maternal characteristics and other parenting behaviors. Intrusiveness moderated associations between both responsive/didactic and negative parenting behaviors and infant 25-month cognition. Maternal age, marital status, psychological resources, and contextual sources of stress play a central role in the quality of parenting among low-income mothers, and positive mother-infant interactions are strong predictors of infants' early cognitive status.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health