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Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Parenting stress. Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. The link between anxious symptoms and parenting stress has been confirmed by reports Cornish et al. Transition to parenthood may lead to changes in the marital relationship of parents Spanier, ; Hazan and Shaver, ; Darwiche et al. Current literature points to the bidirectional correlation between symptoms of depression and dyadic adjustment Kurdek, ; Davila, ; Mamun et al.

Studies also show that dyadic adjustment may be strongly associated with parenting stress Horowitz and Damato, ; Ostberg and Hagekull, ; Ganiban et al. To date, the relationship between parenting stress, anxious-depressive symptoms, and dyadic adjustment has been examined only in a single study Gray et al. This work intends to deepen the knowledge on this relationship by analyzing a larger sample of mothers and their partners.

The aim of this study is to investigate the relationships between parenting stress, mental health, and dyadic adjustment among first-time parents. We use structural equation modeling to examine the potential mediating effects of mental health on the relationship between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment. We hypothesize that higher levels of parenting stress are associated with poorer mental health and that both higher levels of parenting stress and poor mental health are associated with less dyadic adjustment.

We also predict that mental health mediates the effects of parenting stress on dyadic adjustment. Multi-group analyses were conducted to determine whether the mediation model differed between mothers and fathers. Participation was voluntary, and participants were recruited from neonatology units and family healthcare services in Italy. In terms of socio-economic status, most parents belonged to the working Italian middle class. The design excluded subjects who had psychiatric or physical diagnoses as emerged through self-report screening and those whose babies presented genetic or organic problems.

Is a self-report instrument that measures stress specifically associated with parenting. All items are rated on a 5-point scale.

Predictors of Parenting Stress During Early Adoptive Parenthood | SpringerLink

The scale and subscale explore parenting competence, restrictions on life introduced by parenting, parental conflict, depression, and social support. The last scale, PSI-DC, measures how a parent rates the child in terms of their relationship: easy or difficult. Is a self-report questionnaire that consists of 10 items addressing depression symptoms occurring within the previous 7 days. The total score is calculated by adding individual items on a 4-point Likert scale. Is a commonly used self-report measure of trait and state anxiety.

All items are rated on a 4-point scale i. Is a item self-report instrument for assessing dyadic or marital adjustment. The research was approved by university ethics committee. All participants signed the written informed consent form. Descriptive statistics i. The analysis of the hypothesized mediation model was based on the two-step procedure Anderson and Gerbing, : in the first step, confirmatory factor analysis CFA was used to construct a measurement model with an acceptable fit to the data. In the second step, the established structural model was verified.

The hypothesized model comprised one supposed latent antecedent variable parenting stress , one latent mediator variable mental health , and one latent outcome variable dyadic adjustment. The evaluation of model fit was based on chi-squared plus recommended criteria for a set of fit indices. Multi-group analyses were conducted to determine whether the hypothesized model performed equivalently across genders.

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Descriptive statistics for the total sample and by gender are presented in Table 1. The mean, standard deviation, skewness, and kurtosis of the 10 observed variables were examined to check for normality of distribution. All the skewness and kurtosis values of the 10 observed variables were less than 1. In general, the scores from this sample can be characterized as having a normal distribution. The skewness and kurtosis for the PCD-Is 1 and 0.

Mothers showed higher parental distress, higher scores on both depressive and anxiety symptomatology, and lower scores on DAS-DC compared to fathers. Means, standard deviations, skewness, and kurtosis for the 10 observed variables of the total sample and by gender are shown in Table 2.


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The correlation coefficients between age, education, and the 10 observed variables are shown in Table 3. No significant correlations were found between age or education and the observed variables. TABLE 2. TABLE 3. Correlations between the demographic variables and the 10 observed variables. The CFA considered the three latent variables and the 10 observed variables Figure 1. All latent variables were agreed to correlate with one another. The measurement model was assessed using the maximum-likelihood method. These results indicated that all the latent variables were well represented by their respective indicators observed variables.

Thus, the measurement model was used to test the hypothetical structural model. The structural equation model was tested using the maximum-likelihood method. Testing for mediation effects in structural equation modeling involves the evaluation of three models Holmbeck, First in Phase 1, a direct-effect model was used to assess the effect of the predictor parenting stress on the outcome variable dyadic adjustment in absence of the mediator mental health.

It is necessary to determine that there is a direct connection between the predictor and the outcome variables parenting stress and dyadic adjustment, respectively. The direct path coefficient from parenting stress to dyadic adjustment was significant Phase 2 involved testing a partial mediation structural model that estimated the direct relationship between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment and added paths from parenting stress to mental health and from mental health to dyadic adjustment.

In Phase 3, the partial mediation model was compared with a full mediation model in which the direct path from parenting stress to dyadic adjustment was constrained to zero. Thus, in agreement with guidelines on parsimony James et al. In summary, the results of this analysis showed that mental health fully mediated the association between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment. Fully mediated structural equation model. Multi-group analyses were performed to examine whether the full mediation structural equation model was similar for mothers and fathers.

The first phase in these analyses involved assessing the hypothesized structural model with no constraints based on gender; all regression coefficients, correlations, and means were free to take different values for mothers and fathers. This unconstrained model was then compared to models in which various gender constraints were used. In the last decades, many researchers have analyzed depressive and anxious symptoms during the perinatal period in mother and fathers and their links to parenting stress; however, none seem to have considered these factors in relation to the dyadic adjustment of the couple Doss et al.

Various studies show that mothers tend to demonstrate sudden declines in relationship satisfaction after birth while fathers show more gradual declines that are not evident until 6 to 15 months after birth e. To understand the processes leading to such perceptions, it is crucial to evaluate such changes against a complex interplay of several variables that may impact the marital relationship, in the course of transition to parenthood. In line with previous studies, our findings confirm that the level of parental distress and anxious and depressive symptoms appear to be higher in mothers than in fathers Kim and Swain, ; Paulson and Bazemore, ; Vismara et al.

Our research shows how mental health—in terms of depressive and anxious symptoms—could be a mediator between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment. The results offered satisfactory confirmation for the hypothesized structural model. Indices of fit indicated that overall the model was a very good fit to the data. Earlier research has shown linear relationships between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment Mazzeschi et al. It has also been shown that the onset of depressive symptoms in both mothers and fathers is influenced by their own levels of anxiety and parenting stress as well as by the presence of depression in their partners Vismara et al.

In sum, our findings indicate that mental health acts as a mediator of the relationship between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment in both mothers and fathers. In fact, the results offered satisfactory confirmation for the hypothesized structural model. The results suggest, also, that the relationship between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment is not simply a direct, linear relationship; rather, mental health results to be an important dimension that plays a mediating role. Our findings highlight the need to consider the complex array of interacting risk as well as protective variables of different nature that may contribute to the development of specific relational and parenting vulnerabilities within each family configuration.

Parenting Stress and Child Behavior Problems: A Transactional Relationship Across Time

Such knowledge can offer targeted indications for more efficacious and family-specific interventions. In light of this, low dyadic adjustment—characterized by low levels of consensus, DAS-AE, satisfaction, and cohesion—is an indication of malfunction in the couple. To achieve a functional level of dyadic adjustment, our model suggests that is important not only to work on the stress perceived, but also on the anxious and depressive symptoms for both mothers and fathers.

However, the results of the present study should be considered in the context of its limitations. Secondly, the data may not be generalizable: the sample mainly belonged to a medium to high socio-economic status and was non-refereed. We do not know how such variables may interact within different psycho-social contexts. Thirdly, in this study, we used only self-reported tools that are associated with limitations such as inaccurate reporting and social desirability bias.

Finally, the participation in the study was voluntary, and the sample may not represent the characteristics of the general population. Future studies should examine and consider, from a longitudinal perspective, the relation between mental health—in terms of anxiety, depression and other biological or psychological risk factors—and dyadic adjustment and individual perception of parental stress starting with pregnancy. It would be interesting to include an evaluation of protective factors such as the resilience in mothers and fathers.

It would also be worthwhile to analyze in depth the relationship between mental health, dyadic adjustment, and parenting stress, focusing on couples receiving group therapy on coping strategies and self-couple perception. Despite its limitations, the current research increases significantly our understanding of the underlying mechanisms between parenting stress and dyadic adjustment in first-time parents.

The study findings present meaningful evidence for the external validity of the mental health-mediated model in Italy.


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  7. Moreover, the significant path from parenting stress through mental health to dyadic adjustment sheds further light on the complex relationships among these variables. It is likely that mental health improvement programs and training on coping abilities may help the functioning of couples if provided by supporting services to first-time parents. The research project obtained the approval from University ethics committees in which the research has been conducted University of Torino, Cagliari, Bologna, Rome, Milano Cattolica, and Milano Bicocca.

    All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. CS prepared the data set, performed statistical analysis, prepared the tables, and contributed to the writing of the methods and results sections. LV contributed to prepare the study design, to organize the recruitment of the sample, and to write all sections of the manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved manuscript for publication.

    The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. The reviewer AP and the handling Editor declared their shared affiliation, and the handling Editor states that the process nevertheless met the standards of a fair and objective review.

    Gian Benedetto Melis, Prof. Anna Maria Paoletti, and Dr. Bufalini of Cesena, Italy; Dr. Silvana Sanna and Dr. Finally, we would like to thank the participants who made this study possible. Abidin, R.

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