Parenting Competence and Child Status in Mothers with Substance Dependence: The Role of Bonding History and Social Networks
Methods: Data were collected from 158 mothers upon intake to three community based substance abuse treatment programs. All women were diagnosed with substance dependence: alcohol and /or drug. The presence of co-occurring mental disorders was assessed with the Computerized Diagnostic Interview Schedule (CDIS). Maternal bonding history was assessed using the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI); parenting efficacy and satisfaction were assessed using the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC). A social network software program, Egonet, was used to assess characteristics of mother’s personal networks. Hierarchical OLS and Logistic regressions were performed to assess the unique and relative contributions of demographics (education, race, presence of dual disorder), trauma (trauma symptoms, exposure to violence), parental bonding history, and social network variables on parenting satisfaction, parenting efficacy, and custody status of children.
Results: The mean sample age was 33.46 (SD=7.80) ranging from 19-57. More than half of the women (59.5%) identified as Black-African American, 73.4% had never married, and 56.7% had less than a high school diploma. Women reported having between 1 and 11 children and 45.6% had at least one child in the legal custody of someone else. The majority (74.4%) were dually diagnosed, 58.2% reported alcohol dependence and cocaine dependence (63.3 %). Although no relationships were found between mother’s PBI scores and any of the dependent variables, effects of social network variables were observed. Greater percentage of network members assisting with child care (b=8.271, p<.01) predicted greater parenting efficacy and a lower likelihood of having at least one child in the legal custody of someone else (OR=.104, 95% CI=.020-.531). Greater number of network members providing emotional (b=6.671, p<.05), informational (b=4.733, p<.05), and sobriety support (b= 7.053, p<.05) independently predicted greater parenting satisfaction, accounting for 21% of the variance in parenting satisfaction. Lower violence exposure predicted greater parenting efficacy (b=-.203, p<.01); the final regression model accounted for 15% of the variance in parenting efficacy. Greater number of children in the 6-17 age category predicted a greater likelihood of at least one child being in the legal custody of someone else (OR=1.391, 95% CI=1.09-1.77).
Conclusion: Implications for practice include utilizing social network interventions with this population, such as increasing assistance with child care within social networks, and increasing emotional, informational, and sobriety support within the social networks of mothers with SUD. Future research should examine additional predictors of parenting efficacy and satisfaction in this population as well as the relationship between perceived parenting efficacy and actual parenting behaviors.