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Abstract

The psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the Parental Stress Scale (PSS) scale have not been verified on the Spanish population. Similarly, the literature on gender differences and parental stress is inconclusive, and there is little evidence of their relationship with life satisfaction. To analyze the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the PSS scale, (2) to examine possible gender differences, and (3) to study the relationship between parental stress (PS) and parental rewards (PR) and satisfaction with life (SWL) attending to the possible moderating effect of gender. These objectives were examined in samples comprising Social Services Users (SSU) (N = 525; 78.3% female; Mage = 38.3) and non‐SSU users (N = 421; 41.1% male; Mage = 37.08). A CFA corroborated a two‐factor structure: PS and PR. In the SSU sample, mothers showed higher PS and lower PR. However, PR was also higher in mothers from the non‐SSU sample compared to fathers. PR and PS were directly related to SWL in the SSU sample. However, gender moderated the relationship between PR and SWL in the non‐SSU sample in the case of mothers. The results are discussed considering gender roles and the characteristics of both samples.
Received: 7 February 2022
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Revised: 9 May 2022
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Accepted: 20 May 2022
DOI: 10.1002/jcop.22907
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Parental stress and life satisfaction: A
comparative study of social services users
and nonusers from a gender perspective
Olga GómezOrtiz
1
|Ana Rubio
1
|Andrea RoldánBarrios
1
|
Pilar Ridao
2
|e Isabel LópezVerdugo
2
1
Department of Psychology, University of
Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
2
Department of Developmental and
Educational Psychology, University of Sevilla,
Sevilla, Spain
Correspondence
Andrea RoldánBarrios, Department of
Psychology, University of Córdoba, Avda. San
Alberto Magno S/N. 14.004, Córdoba, Spain.
Email: andrea.roldan.barrios@uco.es
Funding information
Regional Ministry of Equality, Social Policies
and WorkLife Balance, Prevention and
Family Support Services, Regional
Government of Andalusia; National
R&D&I Plan
Abstract
The psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the
Parental Stress Scale (PSS) scale have not been verified on
the Spanish population. Similarly, the literature on gender
differences and parental stress is inconclusive, and there is
little evidence of their relationship with life satisfaction. To
analyze the psychometric properties of the Spanish version
of the PSS scale, (2) to examine possible gender differ-
ences, and (3) to study the relationship between parental
stress (PS) and parental rewards (PR) and satisfaction with
life (SWL) attending to the possible moderating effect of
gender. These objectives were examined in samples
comprising Social Services Users (SSU) (N= 525; 78.3%
female; M
age
= 38.3) and nonSSU users (N= 421; 41.1%
male; M
age
= 37.08). A CFA corroborated a twofactor
structure: PS and PR. In the SSU sample, mothers showed
higher PS and lower PR. However, PR was also higher in
mothers from the nonSSU sample compared to fathers. PR
and PS were directly related to SWL in the SSU sample.
However, gender moderated the relationship between PR
and SWL in the nonSSU sample in the case of mothers.
J Community Psychol. 2022;116. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jcop
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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercialNoDerivs License, which
permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is noncommercial and no
modifications or adaptations are made.
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Community Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
The results are discussed considering gender roles and the
characteristics of both samples.
KEYWORDS
feelings, parenthood, rewards, stress, wellbeing
1|INTRODUCTION
Parental stress (PS) is a psychological reaction that triggers the use of every available resource to satisfactorily
exercise the parental role. Specifically, it arises when parents perceive that the demands linked to the fulfillment of
their parental role exceed the resources available to satisfy them (Abidin, 1992; DeaterDeckard, 2004). However,
parenting can also be extremely rewarding and satisfying (DeaterDeckard, 2004; OyarzúnFarías et al., 2021).
Parental satisfaction or rewards is the opposite of PS and relates to the positive feelings that arise from parenting
(Oronoz et al., 2007) such as affection, closeness, and happiness (Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2020). Although both
dimensions, parental satisfaction, and PS, are often inversely related, they are complementary and both are
measured when analyzing PS (Abidin, 1995; Berry & Jones, 1995).
PS has been primarily studied in families deemed atriskas they are at a higher risk of suffering from stress
due to their socioeconomic status, psychological adjustment problems, or problems with the development or
behavior of their children (PérezPadilla, 2014; Raikes & Thompson, 2005). However, it has been shown that all
parents, regardless of their mental health and socioeconomic status, experience stress to a greater or lesser extent,
and in some way, they can feel satisfaction in the exercise of their parental role (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990; Deater
Deckard, 2004), what suggests that parental stress and satisfaction are universal products of socialization. To go in
depth in the study of these emotional processes is, hence, important, not only for they universality but also for their
implications for family life. In this sense, although parental stress can be an adaptative process, high levels are
associated with poor life satisfaction and reduced parental efficacy (Crnic & Ross, 2017). It also impacts children,
increasing their risk to suffer behavioral and emotional problems (DeaterDeckard, 2004). Furthermore, there are
very few studies that examine the differences between clinical or social services users (SSU) and nonusers (non
SSU) regarding parental stress and satisfaction/rewards. As a result, this study aims to establish a comparison
between both groups of parents in all the objectives presented.
One of the most widely used tools for measuring PS is the Parental Stress Scale (PSS; Berry & Jones, 1995). This
scale focuses on parents' subjective perceptions of parenting and what it means to them in terms of negative (stress
and loss of control) and positive (rewards and parental satisfaction) feelings. Berry and Jones (1995) original scale
comprises 18 Likerttype items. The factor analyses of the study gave rise to a fourfactor structure: parental
rewards, parental stressors, lack of control, and parental satisfaction. The scale has been validated for use in several
countries including Denmark (Nielsen et al., 2020; Pontoppidan et al., 2018), Norway (Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2020),
Portugal (Algarvio et al., 2018), Brazil (Brito & Faro, 2017), and China (Cheung, 2000). However, the results of the
studies show significant differences in the number of factors used that range from one (Cho et al., 2021; Darlington
et al., 2012), two (Algarvio et al., 2018; Brito & Faro, 2017; Cheung, 2000; Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2020; Nielsen
et al., 2020; Ponttopidan et al., 2018) to four (Berry & Jones, 1995). Notwithstanding, most advocate a twofactor
structure, but the total number of items and their distribution across factors varies from study to study (Nærde &
Hukkelberg, 2020). Similar to other constructs in psychology, such as academic engagement (Chen et al., 2020;
Veiga et al., 2021), parenting stress is usually identified as a multidimensional construct based on different but
related dimensions (Berry & Jones, 1995; Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2021), and showed, hence, an obliquus nature. By
contrast, other parenting constructs, such as the main parenting dimensions (i.e., warmth and strictness), are
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GÓMEZORTIZ ET AL.
theoretically orthogonal dimensions because they are not significantively related (Maccoby & Martin, 1983;
MartínezEscudero et al., 2020).
PSS has been translated and adapted into Spanish by Oronoz et al. (2007). The data used in the original study
gave rise to an optimum scale of 12 items structured into two factors: parental stressors (α= 0.76) and (what the
authors called) baby's rewards (α= 0.77). Both factors explained 33.5% of the total variance of the construct (10.1%
and 23.4%, respectively. The present study shares some aims with that developed by Oronoz et al. (2007): (i) the
examination of factor analysis of PSS (ii), the analysis of sexrelated differences in parental stress and rewards (iii)
and the study of the criterionrelated validity of PSS analyzing its relationship with depression and anxiety. But the
study of the manuscript also extends the evidence about the validity of the Spanish version of PSS showing some
important differences with the study of Oronoz et al. (2007). Specifically, this last study was focused on parents
who had babies between 3 and 8 months, who composed a nonclinical sample, and used a clinical criterion as
depression and anxiety to test its relationship with parental stress and rewards. However, the present study used as
sample parents of children in preschool and school years, a clinical and nonclinical sample and a nonclinical criterion
such as satisfaction with life to test its relationship with parental stress and rewards. As a result, the first objective
of our study is to test the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the PSS questionnaire. (H1) It is
assumed that the Spanish version of the PSS scale (Oronoz et al., 2007) will present adequate psychometric
properties reflecting two factors: parental stress (PS) and parental rewards (PR).
Gender differences have been extensively studied in relation to some family constructs, such as parenting
practices and attitudes (Martínez et al., 2019; Ridao et al., 2021). Likewise, fathers and mothers also seem to differ
in their levels of PS and PR although the results of previous evidence are not entirely homogeneous. In this sense,
there is a large number of studies that highlight the level of PS in mothers (DeaterDeckard, 1998; Hildingsson &
Thomas, 2014; Insa et al., 2018; Ostberg & Hagekull, 2000; Roxburgh, 2005; Scott & Alwin, 1989; Skreden
et al., 2012), but others report hardly any differences in stress levels between both parents (Crnic & Booth, 1991;
DeaterDeckard & Scarr, 1996; DeaterDeckard et al., 1998; Ponnet et al., 2013). The number of studies that
analyze PR is even smaller and, again, there is little consensus on the impact of gender. In turn, while some studies
indicate higher stress levels in mothers (OyarzúnFarías et al., 2021; Salonen et al., 2010), others reflect that
experiencing parenthood seems to contribute more to the wellbeing and happiness of men than to women (Nelson
et al., 2013; NelsonCoffey et al., 2019; Renk et al., 2003).
When referring to gender differences in the study, we are obliged to refer to the socalled traditional roles
established for women and men and mothers and fathers. Even today, the ideal of intensive motherhood is still
extremely prevalent. This encourages mothers to invest heavily, both emotionally and in time, in educating and
caring for their child(ren) to ensure their wellbeing by satisfying their needs, while relegating their own needs to
second place (Hays, 1996). In this regard, the results from the study by Scott and Alwin (1989) highlight that gender
differences in PS are attributed to gender roles and the beliefs and expectations attributed to them. Whereas men
have been socialized to focus on the development of goals outside the family environment, women have been
socialized to focus on care and parenting issues. This leads women to perceive more demands on them in terms of
parenting, which, in turn, leads them to perceive more stress.
The incorporation of women into the labor market has led to social change resulting in greater gender equality.
This has had an impact on the distribution of domestic and family duties within the household. Consequently,
although studies on the Spanish population continue to highlight that mothers dedicate more time to household
chores and childcare than fathers, regardless of their employment status (Fernández et al., 2016), this imbalance
becomes even more apparent when female participation in the labor market declines (Bianchi et al., 2012; Gracia &
EspingAndersen, 2015). Other factors such as level of education and socioeconomic status also have an impact. It
has been found that men's participation in household and family duties increases in more educated households and
more economically developed regions (Altuzarra Artola et al., 2018; Gracia & Ghysels, 2017). Responsibility
overload exacerbates PS levels in mothers (Ostberg & Hagekull, 2000), while coresponsibility in the household
seems to mitigate stress (Nomaguchi et al., 2017; Roxburgh, 1997). However, when referring to coresponsibility, as
GÓMEZORTIZ ET AL.
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well as the time devoted by both partners to domestic and family duties, other factors must also be taken into
account. Renk et al. (2003) found that more than time, it is the level of responsibility that mothers assume in the
various activities they perform with their children (schooling, discipline, care, etc.) that seems to affect their parental
satisfaction the most. Moreover, they found that their level of responsibility was higher than that assumed by
fathers, especially when mothers do not work outside the home, which explained their lower parental satisfaction.
However, men are not altogether free from PS. Although some studies may show that the level of stress in
fathers in lower than in mothers, it is not negligible and its impact on personal development and psychological
adjustment can be significant (DeaterDeckard, 1998). In recent decades, the social changes that have taken place
have led to a gradual replacement of the male stereotype as head of the familywith a new model of masculinity
characterized by active involvement in domestic and family duties (Alberdi & Escario, 2007), which also encourages
men to develop their parental feelings (Hildingsson & Thomas, 2014; Roxburgh, 2005).
The review of the literature highlights the need for further research on gender differences in PS and PR.
Therefore, the second objective of this study was to address the analysis of these possible differences. (H2) It is
assumed that there will be gender differences between PS and PR with mothers reporting the highest levels of PS.
These differences will be more pronounced in the SSU sample, taking into account the sample's lower level of
education, economic status, and the higher proportion of women not in paid employment. This will reflect the lack
of coresponsibility in their partners, and possibly their higher levels of PS and lower perception of PR. Moreover,
the families in the SSU sample have significant difficulties in adequately attending to the needs of their children,
which produces higher stress levels that can reach clinical extremes (Anderson, 2008; PérezPadilla &
Menéndez, 2014).
Parental Stress has been associated with a number of consequences (SandovalObando et al., 2022), including
life satisfaction (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990; Oronoz et al., 2007). The impact of gender on the relationship between
PS, PR, and satisfaction with life (SWL) has not been studied. However, it has recently been shown that gender
moderates the relationship between other emotional processes, such as guilt linked to the familywork conflict and
life satisfaction (GómezOrtiz & RoldánBarrios, 2021). Other studies show different consequences of PS in
mothers and fathers (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990; DeaterDeckard & Scarr, 1996; Kuo & Johnson, 2021).
Furthermore, the evidence of the impact of gender roles and, above all, of coresponsibility in gender differences in
PS and PR leads us to believe that the relationship between both processes and SWL should not necessarily be the
same for mothers and fathers. The presence of coresponsibility in the home has been shown to act as a mediating
variable capable of increasing marital satisfaction and the perception of quality in the couple's relationship in
mothers (Durtschi et al., 2017). Roxburgh (2005) found that the consequences of parenting difficulties are similar
for mothers and fathers in fulltime employment, where greater coresponsibility is evident. However, this
association is much stronger for mothers who work parttime or are housewives whose partners work fulltime.
Roxburgh highlights that the latter group of mothers has higher levels of PS than mothers and fathers in fulltime
employment.
Finally, in the analysis of consequences of parental stress and the possible moderator role of gender it is also
necessary to have into account the context of the sample. In this sense, as it occurs with other parenting dimensions
(García et al., 2020; Steinberg et al., 2006), there is evidence that parenting stress may affect families with problems
differently compared with those without problems due to the different process involved in families and their
members (Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2020; SandovalObando et al., 2022).
Taking into account the results of the aforementioned studies, as a third objective, our study examines the
relationship between PS, PR and SWL to determine the possible moderating effect of gender on these relationships:
(H3) It is assumed that there will be a direct relationship between PR and SWL and an inverse relationship between
PS and SWL (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990; Oronoz et al., 2007). The impact of gender on the relationship between PS,
PR, and SWL will be greater in the SSU sample, but the same effect will also be observed in the nonSSU sample. In
both cases it will be mothers who experience lower life satisfaction than fathers in the presence of higher levels of
PS and lower levels of PR (Roxburgh, 2005).
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2|METHODOLOGY
2.1 |Participants
The SSU sample comprised 525 mothers and fathers with minors in their care from all eight Andalusian provinces
(the largest Autonomous Region in southern Spain). At the time of the study, the families were receiving support
from the Family Care Teams from the Regional Government of Andalucía's Child and Family Protection Services. Of
the total, 78.3% were female. Ages ranged from 17 to 63 years (M= 38.3; SD = 9.26) and most (54.5%) had primary
education (26.5% secondary education, 7.1% university education, and 11.9% no education). A total of 40.8% were
unemployed (34.3% female and 6.5% male), 39.1% were in paid employment (28.2% female and 10.9% male) and
20.1% fell into the category of retired/housewife or not applying for work (15.7% female and 4.4% male). The
average number of dependent children was two (SD = 1.01; 34.4% of the sample had one; 41.4% two; 16% three;
5.7% four; 2.1% five to seven). The age of children ranged from 0 to 17 years (M= 9.80; SD = 4.48).
The nonSSU sample comprised parents with at least one children in the first and second cycle of preschool
education (05 years) in the provinces of Córdoba and Badajoz, Spain. Convenience sampling was used to select the
sample and the final group comprised 421 parents (41.1% male). The ages of the participants ranged from 22 to 57
years (M= 37.08; SD = 4.87). A total of 27.3% were not in paid employment (23.5% female and 3.8% male) while
72.7% were in paid employment (35.5% female and 37.2% male). And a total of 37.3% of the participants had one
child, 56.1% had two children, 6.2% had three children, and 0.4% had four to five children. The age of children
ranged from 0 to 19 years (M= 4.66; SD = 2.56).
2.2 |Tools
The Spanish version (Oronoz et al., 2007) of the PSS (Berry & Jones, 1995) comprises 12 items that are structured
into two factors: PR (e.g., I feel happy in my role as a parent) and PS (e.g., I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of
being a parent). The items are presented on a Likerttype response scale (1 = Strongly disagree, 5 = Strongly agree).
The psychometric properties are shown in the results section.
The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) (Diener et al., 1985; MoyanoDíaz et al., 2014) has previously been
validated with the Spanish population. The scale comprises five items that measure a single dimension: life
satisfaction (e.g., In most ways my life is close to my ideal). The items are presented on a Likerttype response scale
(1 = Strongly disagree, 5 = Strongly agree) and reflects adequate internal consistency in this study in both the non
SSU sample (α= 0.83) and the SSU sample (α= 0.81).
2.3 |Procedure
To collect data from the nonSSU sample, permission was sought from schools to select children's parents as
potential participants. The schools gave the questionnaires and consent forms to the families to fill in at home, and
explained that their participation was voluntary, anonymous and confidential. This study project was approved by
the Bioethics and Biosafety Committee of the University of Córdoba and complies with the ethical standards of the
Declaration of Helsinki.
The participants in the SSU sample were interviewed by experts from the research team for approximately one
and a half hours. Before the interview, each participant was informed about the objectives of the research, the
confidential and anonymous nature of the data and that they could leave the study at any time. All families
participated in the study on a voluntary basis after signing an informed consent form in compliance with the
Declaration of Helsinki.
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2.4 |Data analysis
A preliminary analysis was performed using descriptive statistics. The sample was randomly divided into two parts
to validate the questionnaire. To determine the dimensionality of the PSS and select the final items, an exploratory
factor analysis (EFA) was performed using Factor (9.3) statistical software. A unweighted leastsquares (ULS)
estimation method was used based on a polychoric correlation matrix, which is recommended when working with
nonnormal distribution samples and ordinal items (Bryant & Satorrra, 2012). The Promin rotation method was used.
The number of factors retained was decided using the Hull method and the aforementioned theoretical
considerations (LorenzoSeva et al., 2011).
To determine validity based on the internal structure of the questionnaire and whether the original factor
structure could be replicated, a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was also performed. Considering the ordinal
nature of the questionnaire variables, the maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) method with robust correction was
used (Bryant & Satorrra, 2012). Model fit was assessed using the comparative fit index (CFI), the nonnormed fit
index (NNFI) (0.95) and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) (0.08) (Hu & Bentler, 1999). A CFA
was performed using the EQS (6.2) program (Bentler, 2005).
The reliability of the scale and subscales was calculated using Cronbach's alpha (α> 0.70). An independent
samples ttest was performed to determine potential gender differences between the PSS scale factors. All the
analyses, as well as the descriptive statistics, were performed using SPSS (23.0) software (IBM Corp.
Released, 2011).
Pearson's correlation was performed to analyze the relationship between parental stress, parental rewards and
life satisfaction. Furthermore, to test the moderating effect of gender on the relationship between PS, PR and SWL,
the PROCESS macro for SPSS was used (Hayes, 2018). The significance of the conditional direct effects was
estimated using biascorrected bootstrap confidence intervals (CI) derived from 5000 bootstrap resamples. Based
on the gender values, the JohnsonNeyman technique was used to determine whether the association between PS,
PR and SWL was significant. The significance level adopted for all the analyses was 0.05.
3|RESULTS
3.1 |Descriptive analysis
Table 1shows the means, standard deviations, skewness, and kurtosis indices for each of the PSS items. The highest
mean was 4.6 (Item 4) for the SSU group and 4.8 (Item 4) for the nonSSU group. The lowest mean was 1.8 (Item 10)
and 1.6 (Item 10), respectively.
3.2 |Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis
In the SSU sample, the KMO test (KaiserMeyerOlkin) to measure sampling adequacy had a value of 0.86 and
Bartlett's test of homoscedasticity was statistically significant [X
2
(66) = 1587.4; p< 0.001]. Similarly, in the nonSSU
sample, the KMO test gave a value of 0.88 and Bartlett's test was also statistically significant [X
2
(66) = 1441.0;
p< 0.001]. These results confirmed the importance of performing an EFA on both samples.
Two factors were selected for both samples using the Hull method. The percentage of the total variance
explained using the twofactor model was 61.19% for the SSU sample and 66.70% for the nonSSU sample. The
first factor, Parental Stressors, explained 45.99% of the variance in the SSU sample and 41.78% in the nonSSU
sample. For both samples the factor comprised seven items (Items 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) that refer to the stress that
parents feel as a result of performing the duties involved in raising and educating their children (e.g., Having a child
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TABLE 1 Items in English and Spanish on the PSS scale, descriptive statistics, communalities, EFA factor loadings, and CFA standardized factor loadings
F1 F2 Co. MSD SKR
2
1. I am happy in my role as a parent (Me siento feliz en mi papel
como padre/madre)
0.74/0.55 0.61/0.36 4.40/4.77 0.88/0.49 1.54/2.60 1.99/8.47 0.56/0.45
3. I feel close to my child(ren) (Me siento muy cercano/a a mi
hijo/a)
0.89/0.80 0.62/0.62 4.34/4.72 0.93/0.54 1.41/1.90 1.40/2.64 0.64/0.29
4. I enjoy spending time with my child(ren) (Disfruto pasando
tiempo con mi hijo/a)
0.78/0.83 0.59/0.71 4.61/4.87 0.71/0.33 2.18/2.23 5.45/3.01 0.50/0.30
11. I am satisfied as a parent (Me siento satisfecho/a como padre/
madre)
0.75/0.61 0.66/0.55 4.38/4.72 0.87/0.59 1.44/2.95 1.56/12.18 0.70/0.68
12. I find my child(ren) enjoyable (Disfruto de mi hijo/a) 0.89/1.00 0.77/1.00 4.59/4.86 0.80/0.48 2.47/5.20 6.49/33.67 0.68/0.92
2. Caring for my child(ren) sometimes takes more time and energy
than I have to give (Atender a mi hijo/a, a veces me quita más
tiempo y energía de la que tengo)
0.77/0.74 0.45/0.51 3.24/3.72 1.45/1.33 0.33/0.84 1.26/0.40 0.19/0.28
5. The major source of stress in my life is my child(ren) (La mayor
fuente de estrés en mi vida es mi hijo/a)
0.72/0.69 0.46/0.51 2.71/2.36 1.62/1.28 0.27/0.48 1.53/0.84 0.17/0.50
6. Having children leaves little time and flexibility in my life (Tener
un hijo/a deja poco tiempo y flexibilidad en mi vida)
0.86/0.82 0.52/0.62 2.53/3.09 1.39/1.30 0.37/0.24 1.14/0.98 0.37/0.44
7. Having children has been a financial burden (Tener un hijo/a ha
supuesto una carga financiera)
0.61/0.83 0.35/0.67 2.61/2.77 1.51/1.23 0.29/0.03 1.41/0.95 0.23/0.31
8. It is difficult to balance different responsibilities because of my
child(ren) (Me resulta difícil equilibrar diferentes
responsabilidades debido a mi hijo/a)
0.59/0.77 0.38/0.60 2.34/2.55 1.31/1.25 0.51/0.14 0.99/1.17 0.43/0.37
(Continues)
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TABLE 1 (Continued)
F1 F2 Co. MSD SKR
2
9. The behavior of my child(ren) is often embarrassing or stressful
to me (El comportamiento de mi hijo/a a menudo me resulta
incómodo o estresante)
0.47/0.72 0.51/0.58 2.82/2.55 0.01/1.23 1.44/0.13 1.37/1.16 0.52/0.34
10. I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a parent (Me
siento abrumado/a por la responsabilidad de ser padre/madre)
0.51/0.67 0.47/0.50 1.89/1.67 1.15/1.08 2.47/1.47 0.11/1.08 0.66/0.30
Note: F1 = factor 1; F2 = factor 2; Co. = communalities; M= mean; SD = standard deviation; S= skewness; K= kurtosis; R
2
= standardized factor loadings. The first figure corresponds to
the SSU sample and the second to the nonSSU sample.
Abbreviations: CFA, confirmatory factor analysis; EFA, exploratory factor analysis; PSS, Parental Stress Scale.
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leaves little time and flexibility in my life). The second factor, Parental Rewards, explained 15.19% of the variance in
the SSU sample and 24.91% in the nonSSU sample. In both samples, the factor comprised five items (Items 1, 3, 4,
11 and 12) that refer to the satisfaction and positive feelings that mothers and fathers experience in their role as
parents and in caring for and interacting with their child(ren). In the case of the SSU group, communalities ranged
from 0.35 to 0.77 and standardized factor loadings ranged from 0.47 to 0.89, whereas, in the nonSSU sample,
communalities ranged from 0.36 to 1.0 and standardized factor loadings ranged from 0.55 to 1.03.
The results of the CFA corroborated the twofactor structure (PS and PR) of the Spanish version of the PSS in
both samples. In the SSU sample, the following fit indices were found: χ
2
SB = 162.63 (53); p= 0.000; NNFI = 0.92;
CFI = 0.94; RMSEA = 0.08. In the nonSSU sample, the data also showed a good fit for the proposed model: χ
2
SB = 86.58 (53); p= 0.001; NNFI = 0.92; CFI = 0.93; RMSEA = 0.07. All factor loadings were significant and high in
the SSU sample (0.46 λs0.85) and the nonSSU sample (0.53 λs0.96). Table 1shows the values of the
standardized factor loadings for each item.
As regards internal consistency, Cronbach's Alpha value for the SSU sample was 0.77 for PS and 0.81 for PR. In
the nonSSU sample, good internal consistency was also obtained (0.82 for PS and 0.75 for PR).
3.3 |Gender differences in parental stress and rewards and their relationships with life
satisfaction
In the SSU sample, gender differences were found in both PS (t(518) = 2.63; p< 0.01; M
females
= 2.69; M
males
= 2.44)
and PR (t(520) = 2.10; p< 0.05, M
females
= 4.40; M
males
= 4.55). However, in the nonSSU sample the results were
different: gender differences were found for PR (t(237.3) = 2.20; p< 0.05; M
females
= 4.77; M
males
= 4.66) but not
for PS (t(369) = 0.61; p> 0.05; M
females
= 2.65; M
males
= 2.59).
Table 2shows correlations between PR, PS, and SWL. As can be seen in the table, all the relationships were
significant. In both samples it was found a direct relationship between PR and SWL and an inverse relationship
between PS and SWL. Correlation coefficients were a little higher in nonSSU sample. The relationship between PR
and PS was inverse but significant in both samples confirming the obliquus nature of the PSS dimensions.
The results from the moderation analyses show that although no direct effect was found between PR and SWL
(β= 0.19, SE = 0.27, p> 0.05) in the nonSSU sample, the effect of the PR variable on SWL was moderated by
gender (β= 0.39, SE = 0.18, p< 0.05). The JohnsonNeyman technique showed that the positive relationship
between PR and SWL was significant in both women and men, indicating that when PR is low, SWL is lower in
women than in men. In turn, high PR was associated with higher levels of SWL in women than in men (see Figure 1).
TABLE 2 Pearson's correlation between parental rewards, parental stress, and life satisfaction
SWL PR PS
SSU sample SWL 1 0.392** 0.222**
PR 0.392** 10.380**
PS 0.222** 0.380** 1
NonSSU sample SWL 1 0.458** 0.251**
PR 0.458** 10.216**
PS 0.251** 0.216** 1
Abbreviations: PR, parental rewards; PS, parental stress; SWL, satisfaction with life.
**= p0.001.
GÓMEZORTIZ ET AL.
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No significant relationships were found between PS and SWL, either direct (β=0.27, SE = 0.14, p> 0.05) or
moderated by gender (β= 0.04, SE = 0.08, p> 0.05). In the SSU sample, a direct relationship between PR and SWL
was observed (β= 0.71, SE = 0.08, p< 0.05), but the relationship was not moderated by gender (β= 0.39, SE = 0.01,
p> 0.05). The same trend was found in the relationship between PS and SWL; a direct relationship (β=0.26,
SE = 0.06, p< 0.01) not moderated by gender (β=0.21, SE = 0.15, p> 0.05).
4|DISCUSSION
The first objective of this study was to verify the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the PSS (Oronoz
et al., 2007). Given that the psychometric properties of the scale were adequate both in the SSU and the nonSSU
sample, the first hypothesis (H1) is accepted. The results revealed adequate internal validity of the scale and
confirmed its bifactorial structure, as argued in the initial validation by Oronoz et al. (2007) and the majority of
studies that have addressed the validation of the PSS scale (Algarvio et al., 2018; Brito & Farot, 2017;
Cheung, 2000; Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2020; Nielsen et al., 2020). Both factors, PS and PR, showed adequate internal
consistency. Other previous studies suggested a different factorial structure of PSS in which not always were
present the same items. These differences could be explained by the statistical analysis performed to test the
internal validity of this questionnaire, the criteria followed to decide the inclusion of the final items and the sample.
In this sense, it has been found four different statistic to analyse the factorial structure of PSS (EFA, CFA, Rasch
modeling, and principal axis factor (Algarvio et al., 2018; Berry & Jones, 1995; Brito & Faro, 2017; Cheung, 2000;
Nærde & Hukkelberg, 2020; Nielsen et al., 2020; Oronoz et al., 2007; Pontoppidan et al., 2018).
The criteria to establish the dimensions of questionnaire also evolve as new studies focused on research
methods and data analyses arise. Also, it is important to consider the influence of the sample of the study,
examinating not only its cultural background but also its sociodemographic characteristics and setting (ie., clinical vs.
nonclinical), because the differences in these features could be changing the measurement structures of the
questionnaires across the different studies (Curran et al., 2008). Nevertheless, the present study found the same
structure in two different samples, extending the evidence to some previous studies limited only to nonclinical
samples (Hukkelberg & Nærde, 2021; Oronoz et al., 2007).
The second objective was to determine the existence of gender differences in the factors on the PSS scale. The
results highlighted gender differences in the SSU sample. Specifically, mothers reported higher levels of PS and
lower levels of PR. In the nonSSU sample, mothers reported higher levels of PR than fathers. However, no
significant differences in the level of PS were observed. These results partially support the second hypothesis (H2).
Thus, in line with the hypothesis, gender differences were more pronounced in the SSU sample. These results are
consistent with those of other studies that allude to a work overload in mothers due to a lack of coresponsibility in
households, which explains the differences in PS and PR (Nelson et al., 2013; NelsonCoffey et al., 2019;
FIGURE 1 Moderating effect of gender on the relationship between satisfaction with life (SWL) (vertical axis
ordinate) and parental rewards (PR) in the nonSocial Services Users (SSU) sample.
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GÓMEZORTIZ ET AL.
Nomaguchi et al., 2017; Ostberg & Hagekull, 2000; Renk et al., 2003; Roxburgh, 1997). The analysis of the
participants' sociodemographic characteristics confirmed that those in the SSU sample had a lower level of
education and, in the case of mothers, higher unemployment figures than those in the nonSSU sample. These data
coincide with those found in other studies performed with samples of similar characteristics in the field of
community social services, which largely present singleparent families with high levels of economic, educational,
and employment precariousness (Menéndez et al., 2010; Subirats et al., 2004). This could exacerbate the imbalance
in the sharing of household and family duties between mothers and fathers in the SSU sample (Altuzarra Artola
et al., 2018; Fernández et al., 2016) and generate maternal overinvolvement in family duties, which favors the
development of PS and hinders the perception of PR in the exercise of parental functions (Nomaguchi et al., 2017;
Renk et al., 2003; Roxburgh, 1997). In turn, the absence of significant differences in PS between mothers and
fathers in the nonSSU sample suggests that the social change, which has led to greater involvement of men in
family life, affects other sectors of the population more (Alberdi & Escario, 2007). This greater involvement takes
stress off men's partners leading to lower stress levels in mothers, which effectively eliminates differences between
the two parents (Hildingsson & Thomas, 2014; Roxburgh, 2005). Similarly, coresponsibility from fathers would
make mothers feel that their parenting is more rewarding, as the parental stressors and demands for care and
affection from children would be distributed between both parents. This would lead to a more positive perception
of parenting and a less exhausting and/or stressful parenting experience (Nomaguchi et al., 2017).
The third objective of this study was to determine the moderating role of gender on the relationship between
PS, PR, and SWL. In the nonSSU sample, the data did not show a direct relationship between PR and SWL.
However, the relationship was moderated by gender, showing that life satisfaction in mothers was more affected by
the level of perceived PR. In turn, no direct relationship was found between PS and SWL or a moderating effect of
gender. However, in the SSU sample, a direct relationship was found between PS, PR, and SWL, but no moderating
effect of gender. These results seem to suggest that, in the SSU sample, both PS and PR are sufficiently important
to have an impact on both women's and men's life satisfaction. Other studies also confirm the connection between
the variables (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990; Oronoz et al., 2007). This highlights the importance of studying the
development of emotional processes linked to the exercise of parenthood, such as PS, and the perception of PR,
since they seem to condition how satisfied people feel with their own lives, with all that this entails. This result
rejects the third hypothesis (H3), which predicted a direct relationship between these phenomena regardless of the
origin of the participants, and a greater impact of gender in the SSU sample. The data obtained from the limited
number of studies that have addressed the impact of gender on the consequences of PS are also not fully
consistent. Some focus on the analysis of certain psychosocial factors that condition family organization, such as
mothers' versus fathers' involvement or coresponsibility, which seem to condition the impact of PS on the
possibility of developing mental health issues such as depression and general stress (Roxburgh, 2005) or other
phenomena such as marital satisfaction (Durtschi et al., 2017). Other studies focus on gender as a determinant of
the type of consequences of PS (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990; DeaterDeckard & Scarr, 1996; Kuo & Johnson, 2021)
However, we have not found any evidence of studies that examine whether gender might moderate the
relationship between PS and SWL in two samples with such different backgrounds. In this regard, the results seem
to suggest that the background and personal circumstances of both groups are more important than gender or how
gender affects employment and family life organization when it comes to coping with parenting. Furthermore, it
was observed that the SSU families had been exposed to more risk factors throughout their lives and, in general,
had fewer personal or active resources, such as coping strategies for stressful situations (PérezPadilla, 2014) than
the nonSSU families. This leads them to perceive lower parental selfefficacy (Raikes & Thompson, 2005). This
constant and steadfast accumulation of stressful circumstances has a huge emotional impact, which becomes even
more exacerbated as more problems arise in their lives. This leads to increased emotional vulnerability (López
Verdugo et al., 2007). In addition, parents from atrisk backgrounds tend to have a very limited view of their
parental competencies, a low perception of parental selfefficacy, and an external locus of control (Rodrigo
GÓMEZORTIZ ET AL.
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11
et al., 2008). This could explain why SWL is more compromised in the SSU sample by PS and the perception of
lower PR.
The fact that the only moderating effect of gender appears in the relationship between PR and SWL and
mothers in the nonSSU sample could be related to gender roles (Scott & Alwin, 1989). From this perspective, the
idea of intensive motherhood is still very prevalent in those mothers who have high expectations of their maternal
performance (Christopher, 2012). This could lead them to feel high levels of life satisfaction, even higher than their
partners when they perceive their parental duties as appropriate and rewarding. Nevertheless, further research is
needed to confirm the importance of parental competencies and gender roles in the impact of gender on the
relationship between PS, PR, and SWL to determine possible differences between samples with diverse
backgrounds.
One of the limitations of this study is the composition of both samples, which is not completely homogeneous
with respect to gender distribution, especially in the SSU sample. One of the characteristics of this population is the
higher percentage of women and singleparent households, which could favor an increase in gender differences
with respect to the nonSSU sample. The use of selfreporting assessment tools, as well as the crosssectional
nature of the study, prevents the establishment of causal relationships. However, this study offers valuable results
that could serve as a basis for the design of intervention initiatives aimed at preventing PS and its consequences. It
can also be used for proposing policy measures aimed at combating gender inequalities or those created by
socioeconomic status. Specifically, the PSS can be used as a valid and reliable measure for the assessment of PS as
demonstrated in the SSU and nonSSU samples. The presence of gender differences is much more pronounced in
the SSU sample, with mothers reporting higher levels of PS and lower PR. Similarly, this group perceived a stronger
association between both emotional phenomena linked to parenting and life satisfaction. In the nonSSU sample,
this association seems to be more moderated by the effect of gender, especially with regard to the PR experienced
by mothers. Nevertheless, in both samples, there is evidence of the need to promote PS coping strategies and
strengthen parental satisfaction, through the promotion of both parental competencies and personal dimensions
(the feeling of selfefficacy or the locus of control, among others). As future lines of research, we propose the
development of longitudinal studies to provide clearer evidence of the relationship between the constructs
analyzed, as well as the possibility of testing the objectives proposed in larger samples to ensure the
representativeness of the results.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This study was performed as part of the projects PSI2019111241RA (National R&D&I Plan) and 3773/0842
(exceptional grant awarded by the Regional Ministry of Equality, Social Policies and WorkLife Balance, Prevention
and Family Support Services, Regional Government of Andalusia). This study was performed as part of the projects
PSI2019111241RA (National R&D&I Plan) and 3773/0842 (exceptional grant awarded by the Regional Ministry of
Equality, Social Policies and WorkLife Balance, Prevention and Family Support Services, Regional Government of
Andalusia). Funding for open access charge: Universidad de Córdoba.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT
The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data
are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.
ETHICS STATEMENT
This study project was approved by the Bioethics and Biosafety Committee of the University of Córdoba and
complies with the ethical standards of the Declaration of Helsinki. The participants were informed about the
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GÓMEZORTIZ ET AL.
objectives of the research, the confidential and anonymous nature of the data and that they could leave the study at
any time. All families participated in the study on a voluntary basis after signing an informed consent form in
compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki.
PEER REVIEW
The peer review history for this article is available at https://publons.com/publon/10.1002/jcop.22907
ORCID
Olga GómezOrtiz http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3925-2104
Andrea RoldánBarrios http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1687-0305
Pilar Ridao http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8714-8734
e Isabel LópezVerdugo http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2770-1961
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... The Parental Stress Scale (PSS) was adapted into Spanish by Oronoz et al. [71] and validated by Gómez-Ortizet al. [92]. This scale measures levels of perceived parental stress (e.g., I find it difficult to balance different responsibilities because of my children) and parental rewards (e.g., I am satisfied as a parent) using 12 items on a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree). ...
... No statistically significant differences were found for work-family guilt (t (92) Although these results are discussed in the next section, it would be convenient to clarify that the absence of significant differences in these variables in the context of this statistical analysis could be explained by the reduced sample size or a possible gender moderator effect, which is very difficult to analyse, taking into account the sample size. ...
... This is paramount, given that both factors have shown the greatest predictive potential on the predisposition to increase family size. Promoting the life satisfaction of parents in dual-earner families starts by ensuring that personal and working conditions facilitate an appropriate work-life balance to mitigate general stress levels and those arising from the parental role [79,92]. Initiatives include increasing flexible working, introducing support measures to ensure childcare until children enter compulsory education (e.g., a network of affordable nursery schools) and satisfactory solutions to medical and other unforeseen needs. ...
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