The affective structure of supportive parenting: depressive symptoms, immediate emotions, and child-oriented motivation

Dev Psychol. 2004 Nov;40(6):1212-27. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.40.6.1212.


This study investigated the maternal concerns and emotions that may regulate one form of sensitive parenting, support for children's immediate desires or intentions. While reviewing a videotape of interactions with their 1-year-olds, mothers who varied on depressive symptoms reported concerns and emotions they had during the interaction. Emotions reflected outcomes either to children (child-oriented concerns) or to mothers themselves (parent-oriented concerns). Child-oriented concerns were associated with fewer negative emotions and more supportive behavior. Supportive parenting was high among mothers who experienced high joy and worry and low anger, sadness, and guilt. However, relations depended on whether emotions were child or parent oriented: Supportive behavior occurred more when emotions were child oriented. In addition, as depressive symptoms increased, mothers reported fewer child-oriented concerns, fewer child-oriented positive emotions, and more parent-oriented negative emotions. They also displayed less supportive behavior. Findings suggest that support for children's immediate intentions may be regulated by parents' concerns, immediate emotions, and depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / psychology
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Motivation*
  • Parenting*
  • Video Recording