Methods: This study examined 183 mother-child (42% boys and 48% girls; 80% African American) dyads from a longitudinal study of prenatally cocaine/poly drug exposed population. Maternal avoidant coping strategy was assessed, using four subscales (behavioral or mental disengagement, alcohol- drug use, and denial) from COPE (child 9yr). Child-report family support was assessed with the Developmental Asset Profile (child 12yr), and child/adolescent reported behavioral regulation was assessed by the Behavioral Regulation Index from Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (child 15yr). Child gender and exposure to violence and, maternal education were included as covariates.
Results: Findings from multiple regression analyses indicated that greater maternal avoidant coping was associated with poorer child self-regulation, b = .28, t (178) = 2.47, p = .02. Higher perceived family support was associated with better child self-regulation, b = -.67, t (178) = -3.32, p = .001. The higher maternal avoidant coping and lower perceived family support were associated with the poorer child self-regulation. When an interaction term of maternal coping by perceived family support was examined, a moderating effect of perceived family support was found to significantly contribute to child/adolescent self-regulation, b = .06, t (177) = 2.08, p = .04, indicating that the negative impact of maternal avoidant coping on child/adolescent self-regulation decreased as perceived family support increased.
Conclusions and Implications: This study demonstrated the negative impact of maternal avoidant coping and the moderating effect of perceived family support on adolescent self-regulation in child/adolescent-mother dyads affected by maternal substance use during pregnancy. Given that poor child/adolescent-self regulation tends to predict later behavioral problems including substance use, this study highlights a need for social work interventions that address maternal coping strategies and promote family supports to prevent child/adolescent behavior problems.