The contribution of marital quality to the well-being of parents of children with developmental disabilities

Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA.
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research (Impact Factor: 2.41). 01/2007; 50(Pt 12):883-93. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2006.00906.x
Source: PubMed


This study examines the contribution of the marital relationship to the well-being of both mothers and fathers of children with developmental disabilities. Parent well-being is conceptualized in terms of mental health, parenting stress and parenting efficacy.
These analyses are based on data from 67 families participating in the Early Intervention Collaborative Study, an ongoing longitudinal investigation of the development of children with disabilities and the adaptation of their families. Multidimensional assessment techniques were used to collect data from married mothers and fathers and their child with a disability. Mother and father data were analysed separately using parallel hierarchical regression models.
For both mothers and fathers, greater marital quality predicted lower parenting stress and fewer depressive symptoms above and beyond socio-economic status, child characteristics and social support. In relation to parenting efficacy, marital quality added significant unique variance for mothers but not for fathers. For fathers, greater social support predicted increased parenting efficacy. Child behaviour was also a powerful predictor of parental well-being for both mothers and fathers.
The findings support the importance of the marital relationship to parental well-being and illustrate the value of including fathers in studies of children with developmental disabilities.

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Available from: Penny Hauser-Cram, Jan 13, 2014
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    • "However, when family risk was low, fathers who were unresolved were able to contain their vulnerability and exhibit lower levels of parental stress. This complies with previous findings showing fathers to display higher levels of parental stress in circumstances involving high family risk (Deater-Deckard et al., 2009; Kersh et al., 2006; Krauss, 1993). As the effect found was only close to significance, this finding needs to be taken with caution. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study investigated the manner by which family risk moderates the links between parental state of resolution with a child's diagnosis and both parent-child interaction and parental stress. The sample included 72 families with 4-7-year-old children (M=5.53, SD=0.73) diagnosed with mild intellectual disability. Parents reported on their resolution state and parental stress, and parent-child interactions were videotaped and analyzed. Results indicated that in families where mothers or fathers were unresolved rather than resolved, mother-child interactions were less positive only in the context of high family risk. The father-child interaction was not found to be affected by family risk and parental resolution. Interestingly, mothers in low family risk situations who were resolved reported the lowest level of parental stress, suggesting a "double buffer" effect, whereas fathers with high family risk who were unresolved experienced the highest levels of parental stress, suggesting a "double risk" effect.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Research in developmental disabilities
    • "There are established research literatures using both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the relationships between parents and their child with DD (Kearney & Griffin 2001; Hastings 2002), between children with DD or ASD and their siblings (Rossiter & Sharpe 2001; Benson & Karlof 2008; Petalas et al. 2009), and between mothers and fathers in terms of concepts such as marital satisfaction (Kersh et al. 2006; Wieland & Baker 2010). The emotional dimensions of intra-family relationships have been found to be crucial for typical child development (Erel & Burman 1995; Weich et al. 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Expressed emotion (EE) is a construct used to measure the emotional climate within families. EE is of interest to researchers in the field of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) because of its putative implications for child development. The aim was to explore whether maternal EE differs towards a child with ASD and a non-disabled sibling.Methods We adopted a within-family design with 143 mothers of children with ASD and a non-disabled sibling. EE was measured using the Five-Minute Speech Sample.ResultsWilcoxon signed-rank tests were utilised. Mothers were coded as significantly more critical and less warm towards their child with ASD than towards the sibling. There were no significant differences in maternal emotional overinvolvement or overall EE towards the child with ASD and a sibling.Conclusions The data support the results of previous research suggesting that EE is linked to the relationship a mother has with individual children, rather than being evidence of the character disposition of mothers. More research is needed to understand the emotional dimensions of parent–child relationships in families with children with ASD.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
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    • "Most relevant to the current study, Beauchaine and colleagues (2005) found that marital satisfaction moderated child outcomes in the Incredible Years Parent Training Program (Webster- Stratton, 1984), specifically that for mothers reporting low marital satisfaction, interventions that included a parent training (as opposed to a child or teacher component) resulted in better outcomes with regard to externalizing behavior problems at 1-year posttreatment compared to interventions without parent training. Marital satisfaction may also play an important role in moderating parenting stress outcomes given the close relationship between marital satisfaction and child behavior problems, as well as previous research indicating marital quality may buffer stress among parents of children with DD (Gerstein, et al., 2009; Kersh, et al., 2006). We recognize that marital satisfaction is one of several potential moderators of the impact of mindfulness training on parental stress and subsequent child behavior problems; however, we hope that this initial analysis will lay the groundwork for further investigations examining the moderating role of family context more broadly in predicting parental mental health and child treatment outcomes for children with DD. "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies have found that low marital satisfaction, parenting stress, and child behavior problems are linked in families of children with developmental delays (DD). However, previous investigations examining the relationships between parenting stress, child behavior problems, and marital satisfaction rarely examine the interrelationships of these three variables simultaneously, and the samples used are often restricted in terms of age and ethnicity, limiting generalizability. The primary aim of the study was to examine the associations between marital satisfaction, child behavior problems, and parenting stress in a diverse sample of parents of young children with DD. The study included 44 parents of children ages 2.5 to 5 years with DD and high levels of behavior problems who participated in a larger study looking at the impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in reducing parenting stress and child behavior problems. Marital satisfaction was significantly related to both parenting stress and child behavior problems, where parents with lower marital satisfaction reported higher parenting stress and child behavior problems. Additionally, preliminary analyses indicated that marital quality significantly moderated changes in child behavior problems from pre- to posttreatment but did not moderate changes in parenting stress as a result of the MBSR intervention.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities
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