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Parenting and the Emotional and Behavioural Adjustment of Young Children in Families with a Parent with Bipolar Disorder

  • Rachel Calam (a1), Steven Jones (a2), Matthew R. Sanders (a3), Robert Dempsey (a1) and Vaneeta Sadhnani (a1)...

Background: Children of parents with bipolar disorder are at increased risk of disturbance. Aims: This study examined relationships between parental mood, parenting, household organization and child emotional and behavioural adjustment in families with a parent with bipolar disorder to determine areas of specific need for parenting support. Method: 48 parents were recruited through advertisements via self-help organizations. The study was conducted online. Parental mood and activity was assessed by self-report questionnaires (CES-D, ISS, MDQ and SRM); parenting was assessed using the Parenting Scale (PS). The SDQ was used to assess the parent's view of their child's emotional and behavioural difficulties. The Confusion, Hubbub and Order Scale (CHAOS) assessed household organization. Results: Parents reported high levels of difficulties across all measures and scores were above clinical cut-offs on most scales. Children were reported as showing high levels of disturbance on the SDQ, including all sub-scales. Parenting and depression scores were significantly positively correlated, as were depression, parenting and CHAOS score. Regression analyses indicated that CHAOS was the strongest predictor of Total Difficulties and Emotional Symptoms on the SDQ. Conclusions: Families are likely to benefit from interventions tailored to meet their parenting needs.

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to Rachel Calam, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Zochonis Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. E-mail:
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