Depression in children from single-parent families and its correlates

Date

1985

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Abstract

The present investigation examined the relationship between childhood depression in children from mother-headed families of divorce and gender of the child, time since the separation or divorce, depression in the mother, and the child's social network. The sample consisted of 55 children, 30 boys and 25 girls between the ages of six and ten, and their mothers. The mothers were separated or divorced at the time of participation and were the only adults living in the home. The dependent variable, childhood depression, was assessed by the Children's Depression Inventory (GDI; Kovacs and Beck, 1977), which is a self-report measure filled out by the child. Depression in the mother was assessed by using the depression subscale of the SCL-90 (Derogatis, Lipman, and Covi, 1973), and social networks, both quality of the relationship and the amount of contact, were measured by a conceptually derived Likert scale. Multiple regression analysis and examination of bivariate correlations revealed that the amount of time that has passed since the separation or divorce is not predictive of depression in children. In addition, boys reported more depression than girls after the father had left the home. Quality of the child's relationships within the home (i.e., mother and siblings) is important in predicting depression. It appears that a good relationship with mother and siblings is able to buffer the child from some of the stress experienced by the child after the separation or divorce, to a greater extent than other relationships (e.g., father, peers). Finally depression in the mother was not correlated with the child's report of depression in himself.

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Keywords

Depression in children, Single-parent families

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