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Maternal Acceptance as a Moderator of the Relation Between Threat to Self Appraisals and Mental Health Problems in Adolescents From Divorced Families

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 36 Issue: 7 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 927-938
Ana C. Brown; Sharlene A. Wolchik; Jenn-Yun Tein; Irwin N. Sander
Date Published
October 2007
12 pages
This study tested a protective-stabilizing interactive model, in which high maternal acceptance was predicated to mitigate the prospective relation between threat to self appraisals (negative self-evaluation, negative evaluation from others, rejection by others) and change to adolescents’ mental health problems 6 months later.
Results indicated that high mother-reported maternal acceptance significantly and marginally reduced the positive relation between adolescent-reported threat to self appraisals and mother--reported adolescent externalizing and internalizing problems 6 months later. The pattern of interactions showed a protective-enhancing effect of maternal acceptance, in which high levels of a protective factor allowed youth to engage with the stress so that fewer mental health problems occurred at higher levels of risk. Positive emotions generated through contact with highly accepting mothers might counter negative emotions related to high threat to self appraisals, and promote a return to healthy physiological functioning after exposure to stressors. Highly accepting mothers might divert adolescents’ attention from distressing events, which prevents preoccupation with divorce-related stressors from developing into maladaptive coping styles that increase vulnerability to mental health problems. It is also possible that adolescents with high threat appraisals who have highly accepting mothers are more likely to seek support from their mothers and less likely to seek support from other adolescents who may not be well equipped to provide support, whereas adolescents who do not have highly accepting mothers might rely on their peers to meet their needs for support or assistance. Tables, figures, references