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Background: Parenting is a modifiable factor proposed to underpin the transmission of anxiety and depression from parents to children. This study examined the role of parenting in the intergenerational transmission of anxiety and depression across pre- and early adolescence.
Method: Participants were 531 youth (Mage = 11.18, SD = 0.56; 50.85% boys) and their parent. Child and parent anxiety and depression, and parental rejection, warmth and overprotection were assessed annually over 3 years. Bidirectional relationships between parent and child anxiety and depression, and the mediating role of parenting behaviors, were examined using cross-lagged panel models. Results:
Results suggest bidirectional associations over time between parent and child depression, and parental rejection and child depression. Parental rejection and low warmth were associated with increases in child depression, but did not mediate depression transmission. Parental anxiety was associated with increases in child anxiety and depression, but there was no bidirectional association from child psychopathology to parental anxiety. There was little evidence that parenting predicted changes in child anxiety over time. Child anxiety and depression were associated with subsequent increases in parental depression.
Conclusion: Parental depression, rejection and low warmth are independent risk factors for child depression. Parental rejection may also be a consequence of parenting a depressed youth. Parenting did not account for the apparent transmission of parental anxiety to increased child anxiety and depression. Child psychopathology increases risk of parental depression. Parental rejection may be an important modifiable risk factor for youth depression in early adolescence, and may also reduce later risk of parent depression.
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