Parenting stress : Conceptual and methodological issues

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: High parenting stress has been connected with negative consequences for both parent and child. The aim of the present thesis was to examine factors contributing to high stress, and to develop a psychometrically sound, reliable, and valid instrument for measuring parenting stress. Self-reported parenting stress was investigated using a revised Swedish version of the Parent Domain of the American Parenting Stress Index. Dimensionality was examined in factor analyses (FA) on data from a nation-wide representative sample and cross-validated on another sample. Based on FA, new subscales, measuring different aspects of parents' perception of stress in their parenting role, were constructed. High internal consistencies, as well as a good stability over amean interval of 30 days, were found.Different aspects of construct validity were examined in four samples. Mothers in a clinical sample indicated higher levels of parenting stress compared to fathers in the same families, and to mothers in a normal sample. A multidimensional model of determinants of parenting stress was tested and cross-validated using a structural equation modeling procedure. The results provided general support for the proposed model, and socialsupport was shown to have both a direct and a moderating influence on parenting stress.Within the examined age-range (6 months to 3 years), child gender or age did not relate to parenting stress. Older, less educated and single mothers reported more stress. A higher stress experience was also associated with more caretaking hassles, psychosocial problems, high work load and low social support. Mothers with high stressreported more depressive mood and were judged to be more unresponsive to their children; they also regarded their children as more temperamentally difficult. Clinical implications conserning the use of the scale in intervention contexts were discussed.

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