WikiJournal Preprints/Parenting stress
Abidin, R; Smith, L; Kim, H.
Parenting Stress relates to stressors that are a function of being in and executing the parenting role. Unlike many stressful situations and events, parenting stresses tend to be long term and repetitive and have the potential to create chronic stress. Abidin has presented a non exhaustive model and a measure that attempts to define the major components of parenting stress, and the impact of these stressors on parenting behavior and their child’s development.
The Nature of Parenting Stress
Parenting Stress is a construct that relates to both psychological phenomena and to the human body’s physiological state as a parent or caretaker of a child. The construct builds on the seminal works of both Selye and Lazarus. Selye demonstrated that a physiological response occurred in the body by phenomenological events in a manner similar to that of physical environmental stimuli. Further, he demonstrated that, regardless of the sources of stress, the greater the number of stressors, the larger the physiological response of the body. Lazarus articulated the connection of perceptions to emotions, and subsequently to both the physiological response, and the likely behavioral response of individuals. In brief, his model suggests 4 stages of the stress reaction:
1. Recognition of an environmental demand,
2. The perception of the demand in terms of whether it is perceived as a threat,
3. Whether or not the individual believes they have the resources to cope with the event. This process is instantaneous, and is essentially unconscious response.
4. Based on stage 3, the nervous system responds and either relaxes or prepares to flee or fight.
For a review of the available evidence-based measures of parenting stress see Holly et al. (2019).
Summary of the Research on Parenting Stress
Kirby Deater-Deckard, in the volume Parenting Stress, presented the first comprehensive articulation of the research on parenting stress in relation to the characteristics of parents, the parent-child relationship, and parents' coping behaviors. Since Deater-Deckard’s work, there has been a rapid expansion of research documenting the linkage between parenting stress and a wide variety of important issues related to family functioning and child development and behavior. The following is a brief sampling of the range of that research: child social development, executive functioning behaviors, observed harsh parenting behavior, intergenerational transmission of harsh discipline, the physical health of parents, and children’s academic achievement, compliance with medical care, and treatment drop out.
The authors would like to thank Eric Youngstrom and Thomas Shafee for guidance in the submission process.
Richard Abidin is an author of the Parenting Stress Index. Logan Smith and Hannah Kim have no competing interests to declare.
APA ethical guidelines were followed in the preparation of the review and determination of authorship.
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