Intergenerational patterns of psychological maltreatment, child rearing practices, and trauma-related symptomatology in a clinical population

Date of Completion

January 1996


Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Families seeking services at a community mental health center $(n=53)$ participated in this questionnaire study designed to evaluate the relations among mothers' retrospective reports of childhood trauma and abuse and mothers' current child rearing practices as rated by mothers and children (ages 9 to 15). Cumulative stressful life experiences for children and levels of trauma-related symptomatology for mothers and children were also assessed. Mothers' reports of childhood trauma and abuse were related to increased trauma symptoms for mothers, more stressful life events for children, and to children's descriptions of their mothers as rigid, authoritarian and inconsistently affectionate. Children's reports of stressful life experiences were associated with increased trauma symptoms for children and mothers. Differences were noted between mothers with substantiated charges of child abuse or neglect and mothers without protective services involvement, with abusive and neglectful mothers reporting more maltreatment in their own childhoods and higher levels of current trauma symptoms. Results support the utility and validity of the Child Abuse and Trauma scale and the Love Inconsistency scale with low-income, clinical populations, and these findings emphasize the importance of evaluating and treating the trauma-related symptoms of parents who bring their children for psychological services. ^