Stability and Change in Mothers' Representations of Their Relationship with Their Toddlers

Aber, J.L., Belsky, J., Slade, A. & Crnic, K.
Developmental Psychology, 35(4), 1038-1047.

This study examined several issues in the developmental dynamics of parents' representations of their relationship with their toddlers. The authors studied 125 mothers and their firstborn toddler sons over a 13-month period. Mothers took the Parent Development Interview twice, when children were 15 and 28 months of age. Home observations of parent-child interactions and maternal ratings of daily hassles were collected when children were 21 and 27 months of age. The 3 factors that characterized mothers' representations of their 15-month-old firstborn sons (Joy-Pleasure/Coherence, Anger, Guilt-Separation Distress) also fit the data very well for their 28-month-old sons. Although there were no changes in average levels of mothers' (a) joy, pleasure, and coherence and (b) guilt and separation distress from 15 to 28 months, there was a significant increase in mothers' levels of anger. Stability analyses suggested a dynamic relationship between mothers' representations of joy, pleasure, and coherence and of anger over the 13-month period. Finally, changes in mothers' representations were predictable by positive mothering (which led to increased joy, pleasure, and coherence) and by parenting daily hassles (which led to more anger).

Wagner Faculty