Between parental efficacy and parental distress: Contributions of early maladaptive schemas to the experience of motherhood for youth aging out of care

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Couvrette A, Lanctôt N. (2017). Between parental efficacy and parental distress: How early maladaptive schemas contribute to the motherhood experience of young mothers who have aged out of care. Adoption & Fostering. 41(2): 170-187.


The present study aims to explore, using Young’s early maladaptive schemas (EMS), the cognitive and emotional dimensions associated with the experience of motherhood of young women ageing out of care. It also assesses the relationships between EMS and two dimensions of the parental role (parental efficacy and parental distress). The sample is composed of 29 young mothers who were placed in care as adolescents. Parental efficacy was significantly correlated with only one EMS: Social Isolation/Alienation. Parental distress was moderately and positively correlated with the following EMS: Mistrust/Abuse, Emotional Deprivation, Social Isolation/Alienation and Enmeshment/Undeveloped Self. Results showed a more comprehensive picture of these young mothers’ pervasive patterns of emotions and cognitions. This picture is more balanced than the poor mothering outcomes typically associated with early motherhood in the scientific literature, or the overly positive depictions of young motherhood that have emerged from some qualitative studies. Implications for intervention are discussed.