Relationships among parental, event-, parenting-, and life-stresses, parental behavior, and parent-child interaction

Steven E Zimmerman, Pace University


This study examined the relationships among parental event-, parenting-, and life- stress, parental behavior, and parent-child interaction, in a non-clinical sample of 26 parent-child dyads with children 11 to 53 months, building upon a prior study (Adams, 2006), by investigating the relevance of additional parent- and parent-child dyadic behaviors. Hypotheses were: Greater event stress would be positively associated with improved parental behavior and dyadic interaction whereas greater life and parenting stress would be negatively associated with them. Social support would be positively associated with optimal parenting behavior and dyadic interactions and moderate their relationship with stress. Life-, parenting-, and event-stress were measured by the Social Readjustment Rating Scale—Revised (SRRS-R), Parenting Stress Index—Short Form (PSI-SF), and Impact of Event Scale—Revised (IES-R) respectively. Parental behavior and dyadic interaction were assessed using the Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment (PCERA), and Social Support was assessed with the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS). Significant results are: Increased event stress is associated with decreased amount/quality of visual contact in free play (FP), in the unanticipated direction ( r = -.476, p = .014). Higher life stress correlates with decreased Stress and Parenting depressed/withdrawn/apathetic mood in both FP ( r = -.492, p<.05) and structured play (SP; r = -.472, p<.05) situations, and with decreased joint attention/activity in FP (r = -.405, p = .040). Centered variables of total social support and weighted life stress demonstrates an interaction when joint attention/activity in FP was regressed onto them (β = .576, p = .027). There was an interaction between Csstotal and Csrrswt when the dyadic PCERA variable state similarity in FP was regressed onto them (β = .56, p = .04). Narrowed PCERA ranges correspond to difficulties with both interrater reliability and to restricted significant findings, raising questions regarding its utility in non-clinical samples. Merits and limitations of the PCERA are discussed. Results indicate that relationships among differential stressors, parental behavior, and dyadic interaction are complex and likely non-linear, providing caution regarding generalizations derived from existing literature.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Zimmerman, Steven E, "Relationships among parental, event-, parenting-, and life-stresses, parental behavior, and parent-child interaction" (2009). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3363143.



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