Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Ty Partridge


The aim of this study was to evaluate ways in which infant temperament and health difficulties influence maternal characteristics over the first three years as well as the mother child relationship. We used longitudinal data from 1364 families, collected as part of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD). Longitudinal growth curve models were employed to evaluate influences of infant temperament and health at 6 months on maternal depression, employment, role satisfaction, parenting stress and marital satisfaction when the child was 6, 15, 24 and 36 months of age as well as mother child interactions at 15 months. Measures included the Revised Infant Temperament Questionnaire, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) Inventory-Infant/Toddler version.

Mothers of infants with more difficult temperament and increased health problems at 6 months reported increased symptoms of depression, decreased role satisfaction, and lower marital satisfaction at 6 months. Mothers of infants with more difficult temperaments worked less at 6 months than mothers who rated their infants' temperaments as less difficu#60; however, mothers of infants with more health problems worked more hours at 6 months. It may be the case that mothers of infants with more health difficulties need to work more due to health insurance needs and cost of medical treatment. Infant health and temperament did not predict the rate of change in these maternal characteristics from 6 to 36 months. It was not possible to evaluate the relationship between the infant predictors and parenting stress due to lack of change in parenting stress scores from 15 to 36 months.

With regards to mother child interaction, increased 15 month maternal sensitivity predicted decreased maternal depression, increased hours worked, increased role satisfaction for at home mothers, and increased romantic relationship emotional intimacy at 15 months. Maternal sensitivity was not related to role satisfaction for working mothers at 15 months. Decreased maternal sensitivity at 15 months predicted a more rapid increase (steeper slope) in maternal employment from 15 to 36 months. This unexpected finding may indicate maternal resources available and environmental influences associated with maternal employment.