Maternal Depression History Moderates Parenting Responses to Compliant and Noncompliant Behaviors of Children with ADHD

Sharon R. Thomas, Kelly A. O’Brien, Tana L. Clarke, Yihao Liu, Andrea Chronis-Tuscano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maternal depression and parenting are robust predictors of developmental outcomes for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, methods commonly used to examine parent–child interactions in these families do not account for temporal associations between child and parent behavior that have been theorized to maintain negative child behavior. Moreover, studies examining associations between maternal depression and parenting in families of children with ADHD have not compared mothers who were currently depressed, remitted, and never clinically depressed. This study utilized sequential analysis to examine how maternal reinforcement of compliant and noncompliant child behavior differs as a function of maternal depression history. Within the 82 participating mother-child dyads, 21 mothers were currently depressed, 29 mothers had a lifetime history of depression but were in remission for at least 1 month, and 32 mothers had never been clinically depressed. 24 girls (29.6 %) and 57 boys (70.4 %) between the ages of 6–12 years old (M = 8.7, SD = 2.0) and were diagnosed with ADHD. Results indicated that all mothers were less likely to respond optimally than non-optimally to child compliant and noncompliant behaviors during observed parent–child interactions; however, currently depressed mothers were least likely to reinforce child compliance and responded most coercively to child noncompliance relative to the other groups. Remitted mothers in this sample were more coercive than never clinically depressed mothers, but were more likely to follow through with commands than never clinically depressed mothers. Implications for behavioral parent training programs aimed at skill development for depressed mothers of children with ADHD are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1269
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 10 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • ADHD, Depression, Parenting
  • Sequential analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal Depression History Moderates Parenting Responses to Compliant and Noncompliant Behaviors of Children with ADHD'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this