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Trauma Exposure History and Sensitive Parenting in Times of Need: An Examination in a Sample of Latina Mothers

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Latinx individuals are the fastest growing cultural group in the United States and are at an increased risk for traumatic event exposure compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Extensive evidence links trauma exposure to more negative parenting outcomes, both in terms of self-reported parenting behaviors and perceptions of oneself as a parent. Sensitive parenting, or the degree to which a parent effectively responds to their child’s emotions and needs, is associated with improved psychosocial functioning for both the parent and the child. The current study sought to examine trauma exposure history and maternal sensitivity in a sample of low-income Latinx mother-child dyads (N = 126). The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) was used to measure trauma exposure and a coded interaction task between the mother and child was used to measure maternal sensitivity. Adult attachment security, measured by the Experiences in Close Relationships - Relationship Structure scale (ECR-RS) and reflective functioning, assessed using the pre-mentalizing subscale of the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire for parents of adolescents (PRFQ-A), were investigated as moderators of the relationship between trauma exposure history and maternal sensitivity. Results of regression analyses revealed that interpersonal trauma exposure predicted a decrease in maternal sensitivity, however, no moderation effects were observed. Higher avoidance was associated with lower trauma exposure history. Further research is needed to explicate the relationship between trauma exposure history and maternal sensitivity in this population.

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