WikiJournal Preprints/Parenting stress

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Article information

Authors: Richard R. Abidin[a], Logan T. Smith[b][i]ORCID iD.svg , Hannah Kim[c]

Abidin, R; Smith, L; Kim, H. 


Parenting Stress relates to stressors that are a function of being in and executing the parenting role.It 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.


Components of Parenting Stress.png

Figure 1 |  Parent and child personality and pathology factors that contribute to parenting stress.
Hannah Kim, CC-BY 3.0.[1]

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.[2][3][4][5]

The Nature of Parenting Stress[edit]

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[6] and Lazarus.[7] 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).[8]

Summary of the Research on Parenting Stress[edit]

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.[9] 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,[10][11] executive functioning behaviors,[12] observed harsh parenting behavior,[13] intergenerational transmission of harsh discipline,[14] the physical health of parents,[15] and children’s academic achievement,[16] compliance with medical care,[17] and treatment drop out.[18][19]

Additional information[edit]


The authors would like to thank Eric Youngstrom and Thomas Shafee for guidance in the submission process.

Competing interests[edit]

Richard Abidin is an author of the Parenting Stress Index. Logan Smith and Hannah Kim have no competing interests to declare.

Ethics statement[edit]

APA ethical guidelines were followed in the preparation of the review and determination of authorship.


  1. Kim, Hannah (2019). "Parenting Stress". Open Science Framework. doi:10.17605/ 
  2. Abidin, Richard R. (1986). Parenting Stress Index : manual (PSI). Pediatric Psychology Press. OCLC 21184758.
  3. Abidin, Richard R. (1992-12). "The Determinants of Parenting Behavior". Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 21 (4): 407–412. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp2104_12. ISSN 0047-228X. 
  4. Abidin, Richard R. (1995). Parenting Stress Index : professional manual. Psychological Assessment Resources. OCLC 55989316.
  5. Richard, Abidin (2017-08-10). Parenting Stress Lecture. Washington, D.C. 
  6. Selye, Hans, 1907-1982. (1978, ©1976). The stress of life (Rev. ed ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0070562121. OCLC 3294632. Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text (link)
  7. Lazarus, Richard S. (2006). Stress and emotion : a new synthesis. Springer Pub. Co. ISBN 9780826102614. OCLC 224717677.
  8. Holly, Lindsay E.; Fenley, Alicia R.; Kritikos, Tessa K.; Merson, Rachel A.; Abidin, Richard R.; Langer, David A. (2019-09-03). "Evidence-Base Update for Parenting Stress Measures in Clinical Samples". Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology 48 (5): 685–705. doi:10.1080/15374416.2019.1639515. ISSN 1537-4416. PMID 31393178. 
  9. Deater-Deckard, Kirby (2004-08-11). Parenting Stress. Yale University Press. pp. 27–54. ISBN 9780300103939.
  10. Fanti, Kostas A.; Munoz Centifanti, Luna C. (2013-06-25). "Childhood Callous-Unemotional Traits Moderate the Relation Between Parenting Distress and Conduct Problems Over Time". Child Psychiatry & Human Development 45 (2): 173–184. doi:10.1007/s10578-013-0389-3. ISSN 0009-398X. 
  11. Tripp, Gail; Schaughency, Elizabeth A.; Langlands, Robyn; Mouat, Kelly (2007-06-01). "Family Interactions in Children With and Without ADHD" (in en). Journal of Child and Family Studies 16 (3): 385–400. doi:10.1007/s10826-006-9093-2. ISSN 1573-2843. 
  12. Wagner, Shannon L.; Cepeda, Ivan; Krieger, Dena; Maggi, Stefania; D’Angiulli, Amedeo; Weinberg, Joanne; Grunau, Ruth E. (2015-09-03). "Higher cortisol is associated with poorer executive functioning in preschool children: The role of parenting stress, parent coping and quality of daycare". Child Neuropsychology 22 (7): 853–869. doi:10.1080/09297049.2015.1080232. ISSN 0929-7049. 
  13. Le, Yunying; Fredman, Steffany J.; Feinberg, Mark E. (2017-09). "Parenting stress mediates the association between negative affectivity and harsh parenting: A longitudinal dyadic analysis.". Journal of Family Psychology 31 (6): 679–688. doi:10.1037/fam0000315. ISSN 1939-1293. 
  14. Niu, Hua; Liu, Li; Wang, Meifang (2018-05). "Intergenerational transmission of harsh discipline: The moderating role of parenting stress and parent gender". Child Abuse & Neglect 79: 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.01.017. ISSN 0145-2134. 
  15. Feldman, Ruth; Gordon, Ilanit; Zagoory-Sharon, Orna (2010-12-16). "Maternal and paternal plasma, salivary, and urinary oxytocin and parent-infant synchrony: considering stress and affiliation components of human bonding". Developmental Science 14 (4): 752–761. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.01021.x. ISSN 1363-755X. 
  16. Harmeyer, Erin; Ispa, Jean M.; Palermo, Francisco; Carlo, Gustavo (2016). "Predicting self-regulation and vocabulary and academic skills at kindergarten entry: The roles of maternal parenting stress and mother-child closeness". Early Childhood Research Quarterly 37: 153–164. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.05.001. ISSN 0885-2006. 
  17. Gerson, A. C.; Furth, S. L.; Neu, A. M.; Fivush, B. A. (2004-12). "Assessing associations between medication adherence and potentially modifiable psychosocial variables in pediatric kidney transplant recipients and their families". Pediatric Transplantation 8 (6): 543–550. doi:10.1111/j.1399-3046.2004.00215.x. ISSN 1397-3142. 
  18. McWey, Lenore; Holtrop, Kendal (2013). "Retention in a parenting intervention for parents involved with the child welfare system". PsycEXTRA Dataset. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  19. Rostad, Whitney L.; Moreland, Angela D.; Valle, Linda Anne; Chaffin, Mark J. (2017-12-22). "Barriers to Participation in Parenting Programs: The Relationship between Parenting Stress, Perceived Barriers, and Program Completion". Journal of Child and Family Studies 27 (4): 1264–1274. doi:10.1007/s10826-017-0963-6. ISSN 1062-1024.