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Title: Maternal representations of their children and their parenting
Author: Kang, Yaeri
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 6371
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2012
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The purpose of this thesis was to investigate mothers' internal views ofthe relationship with their children as a key mechanism of understanding parenting behaviours. A 5 year, longitudinal study (study 1; N= 122 primiparous mothers and babies) of the stability and changes in mothers' thoughts and feelings about their babies from pregnancy to the postpartum period addressed questions in relation to parenting practices and child socio-emotional development. Results revealed that there was moderate stability in maternal perceptions of the child during the transition to parenthood and that child temperament and environmental risk factors were associated with maternal perception to some degree. Contrary to hypotheses, some inverse correlations between mothers' positive prenatal! postnatal perception of the relationship and less optimal parenting behaviours at 5 years were found. Moderating effects of child temperament on the link between maternal characteristics and child adjustment were found for parenting, but not for maternal perceptions. Findings suggested that the mother-child relationship was gradually established over time, through repeated interactions, and that the maternal internal model of the relationship with the child also appeared to undergo some degree of modification. In a cross-sectional study (study 2; N= 79 mothers and 1.5 year aged children), mothers' generalized thoughts and feelings about the relationship with their children, situation-specific cognitive processing and disconfirmed expectations were investigated before and after a challenging parenting situation with their children. The results demonstrated that mothers' positive generalized views of the child were associated with disconfirmed expectations; however, this effect disappeared after controlling for the child's actual behaviours. Moreover, these mothers who held positive views of the child did not differ in their perception of the child's behaviours from observers after the event happened. Mothers' thinking styles in a narrative interview was found to be related to parenting behaviours. Mothers who held a balanced view about the child's emotional behaviour in the specific situation demonstrated the most sensitive and adaptive parenting behaviours. In contrast, mothers whose thinking style was characterized as defensive positivity showed remote behaviours compared to mothers whose thinking style was affectively over- 4 activated. Overall, the findings indicate the importance of mothers' moment to moment thinking processes during the interaction compared to mothers' generalized views of the child at the conscious level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available