Nursing ETDs

Publication Date



Maternal depression is a serious mental health and public health issue with the majority of research focused on depression occurring within the first postnatal year. Studies exploring maternal depression beyond the postpartum period have been conducted however the focus is typically the negative effects of maternal depression on child development. Thematic analysis was used to understand the subjective experience of mothering a toddler from the perspective of both depressed (n = 5) and non-depressed (n = 16) women with children between 12 to 24 months of age, using Mercer's role transition theory, Becoming a mother, Higgin's Self-discrepancy Theory and a material discursive perspective as an integrated theoretical framework. The findings reflected that becoming a mother of a toddler is transformative as suggested by Mercer with identifiable phases of role transition and adaptation evolving in step with toddler development. Participants in the depressed sub-group were more apt to experience incongruences between the ideological expectations and reality of mothering which resulted in a certain degree of emotional distress. Thematic representations of control, commitment and challenge, the three components of the personality trait, hardiness also emerged from the maternal narratives. Mothers in the non-depressed subgroup described use of coping methods in response to stress that were more reflective of high hardiness in contrast to mothers in the depressed subgroup. A better understanding of how maternal role transition unfolds beyond the first year postpartum, and how maternal hardiness influences coping skills can guide the clinician in the development of psychotherapeutic treatment strategies aimed at minimizing the negative impact of depression on the maternal-toddler dyad and promotion of more effective parenting behaviors for mothers with depression.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tinkle, Melinda

Second Committee Member

Liesveld, Judy

Third Committee Member

Robbins, Leslie


Maternal Depression, Maternal Hardiness, Maternal Role Discrepancy, Mothers of Toddlers, Maternal Role Transition, Postpartum Depression, Maternal Role Strain, Maternal Role Adaptation



Document Type