Parenting beliefs, parental stress, and social support relationships

Melissa Respler-Herman, Pace University


Present-day psychologists often identify parenting as an important part of children's growth and development. Parenting decisions can affect the way in which children develop and result in various outcomes. Parents' behaviors regarding parenting are generally consistent with their parenting beliefs (Mowder, 2005). The parent development theory (PDT) states that parenting largely encompasses six dimensions: bonding, discipline, education, general welfare and protection, responsivity, and sensitivity. Additionally, there are many determinants that influence parenting ideas and practices (Belsky, 1984). Research has shown that marital status, parental stress and social support affect parenting in different ways. The present study aimed to build upon work done by Harari (2005), Mowder (2005) and Simons et al. (1993a) by examining the relationship of parental stress, marital status and social support to parenting beliefs and behaviors. A sample of parents of preschool and elementary school students provided their views concerning the importance of PDT parenting characteristics, bonding, discipline, education, general welfare and protection, responsivity, sensitivity, as well as negativity. Additionally, how parental stress, marital status, social support, and parenting perceptions are related to parenting perceptions was explored. The Parent Behavior Importance Questionnaire-Revised (PBIQ-R), as well as the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form (PSI-SF), and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) were used with a sample of 87 parents. Results reveal that in general, less parenting stress was related to more positive parenting perceptions and more parenting stress was related to less positive parenting perceptions within a sample of married parents. Specifically, higher indications of importance on bonding, education, general welfare and protection, responsivity, and sensitivity were all found to be significantly associated with indications of lower levels of parenting stress (i.e., lower scores on the PSI-SF). Additionally, higher scores on the PBIQ negative subscale were significantly related to higher levels of parenting stress (higher scores on the PSI-SF). However, not all of the seven parenting beliefs were significantly correlated with parenting stress; discipline, as measured by the PBIQ, was not significantly correlated with parenting stress. Additionally, perceived social support was significantly correlated with general welfare and protection as well as responsivity. Perceived social support was not found to moderate the relationship between parenting stress and parenting perceptions. Thus, the major findings of this research may be summarized as follows. Overall, more positive parenting ideas were related to less parenting stress; further, less positive parenting ideas were related to more parenting stress within a sample of married parents. This study may be applied to school psychology for assessment, consultation, and intervention purposes. For example, school psychologists can provide workshops for parents to help them learn strategies to reduce parenting stress. Furthermore, school psychologists can include scales measuring parenting stress and parenting beliefs during assessments in order to obtain more extensive information to help put suitable interventions into action. The results may assist school psychologists in understanding the different roles of parents, appreciating parent role complexity, and relating parental stress to the parent role. This knowledge may assist practitioners in becoming effective consultants. Additionally, since parents' behavior is generally consistent with their beliefs, assessments and interventions may be more appropriate and meaningful if professionals involve parents and are familiar with their views regarding the parenting role. For instance, if professionals include scales to assess parenting beliefs and parenting stress when assessing children and implementing interventions, they may have a broader picture of the child and may be better able to employ appropriate, evidence-based interventions than without such tools.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Respler-Herman, Melissa, "Parenting beliefs, parental stress, and social support relationships" (2009). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3357197.



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