OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

The Effects of Maternal Depression on Sibling Conflict


Carissa Rieger


Abstract The current study evaluated the influence of maternal depression on sibling conflict. Past studies have shown that maternal depression is associated with child behavior problems (Fisher, Brock, O’Hara, Kopelman, and Stuart 2015). Past research has suggested that a mother’s ability to parent is altered by her depression (Traploini, Ungerer, and McMahon 2008). Possible contributing factors could be a mother’s reduced ability to nurture, monitor, or accept her children while suffering from depression (Elgar, Mills, McGrath, Waschbusch, and Brownridge 2007). These problems could increase the likelihood of sibling conflict, starting when the mother experienced depression and then persisting. The current study predicted that mothers with a higher levels of depressed mood when their children are toddlers would have children who reported higher sibling conflict in middle childhood. The data used are from the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MSC), a longitudinal study of approximately 19,000 families with children born in 2001-2002. Since then, participating families have been surveyed on many aspects of the children’s development and parent and family functioning. For the relevance of the current study, the mother’s depression levels were assessed using the Kessler et al.’s (2003) K-6 scale when the target child as three years old, which sibling conflict typically begins to emerge as a problem. The mother’s target child was assessed for sibling conflict when the child was 11 years old, using self-report. Data analysis, results, and discussion will be presented.

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