Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Forehand, Rex


A substantial literature indicates that children and adolescents living with a depressed caregiver are at increased risk for emotional and behavioral problems. Although parental depression has been shown to have non-specific associations across child problems, researchers have begun to examine whether specific risk factors, such as parental depression, are associated with specific child outcomes, such as child anxiety. Parenting behavior has been identified as one potential mechanism for the transmission of depression and other psychopathology from parent to child. The extant literature supports this mechanism, as the parenting behaviors of mothers with and without a history of depression have been found to differ in important ways. Moreover, two separate literatures suggest that the same parenting behaviors are associated with both parental depression and child anxiety. The current study was designed to extend past research in the areas of parental depression, parenting, and child anxiety by examining parenting behavior as an explanatory mechanism for the association of parental depressive symptoms and child anxiety symptoms. Using a sample of parents with a history of depression and their 9- to 15-year old children, the current study examined four specific parenting behaviors (i.e., hostility, intrusiveness, withdrawal, and warmth), observed in the context of a stressful parent-child interaction task, as mediators of the association between parental depressive symptoms and both parent and child reports of child anxiety symptoms. Limited support was found for the meditational role of specific parenting behaviors in the association of parental depressive symptoms and child anxiety symptoms. Linear mixed-model analyses revealed an inverse and likely spurious relation between parental depressive symptoms and parent report of child anxiety symptoms. A significant positive association also emerged between parental depressive symptoms and observed parental withdrawal. No support was found for the other relations of the proposed mediation model. Possible reasons for the lack of significant findings are discussed.