Emotional Availability and Social Skills: A Link Between Mother-Child Depressive Symptoms
Department of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
This research examined the intergenerational transmission of depressive symptoms from mothers to their adult children through two succeeding mediators: a child’s perception of emotional availability from their mothers, and a child’s social skills. To do so, this study integrated principles from the integrative model of risk from depressed mother to offspring, attachment theory, and the social skills deficit theory of depression. Child reports of depressive symptoms, perceived emotional availability from mothers, and social skills were assessed as well as mother reports of depressive symptoms from 224 (N = 448) mother-child dyads. Results showed that maternal depressive symptoms were significantly related to child perceptions of emotional availability. Moreover, emotional availability was positively related to child social skills, which in turn was negatively related to child depressive symptoms. Additionally, the indirect effect from maternal depressive symptoms to child depressive symptoms through the mediators was significant. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.