Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Child Development



First Reader/Committee Chair

Kamptner, Laura


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among early parenting experiences, adult mental health functioning, and adult parenting behaviors among a population of incarcerated women in San Bernardino, CA. An archival data set was utilized. Data were collected from three hundred thirty-six female participants in the San Bernardino County Jail System in 2011, aged 18 – 60 years (M = 34.02). Only those who are mothers (N=132), with children between the ages of two and 18 years old, participated in the current study. Structural equation modeling was conducted using EQS. Results showed that early experiences, specifically adverse childhood experiences, were strongly predictive of adult mental health. Surprisingly, adult mental health was not predictive of adult parenting behaviors. Adult parenting behaviors, though, were strongly predictive of the quality of parent-child relationship. Contrary to expectation, the hypothesized relationship between early experiences and adult parenting behaviors was not supported. The implication of these findings is that the central task of interventions seeking to improve adult mental health should include a focus on the impact of negative early experiences.