Stability, continuity, and similarity of parenting stress in European American mothers and fathers across their child's transition to adolescence

Diane L. Putnick, Marc H. Bornstein, Charlene Hendricks, Kathleen M. Painter, Joan T.D. Suwalsky, W. Andrew Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective. Experiencing some degree of parenting stress is virtually unavoidable, particularly as children enter early adolescence and assert their independence. In this study, the authors examined how parenting stress attributed to the parent, the child, or the dyad changed in mean level and relative standing across their child's transition to adolescence. The authors also compared mothers and fathers from the same families in terms of parenting stress and explored how one parent's stress affected the other parent's stress. Design. Participants included 222 European American parents (111 mothers and 111 fathers), assessed when their children were 10 and 14 years old. Results. Parenting stress was highly stable from 10 to 14 years. Total parenting stress increased across time, and was attributable to stress due to increased parent-child dysfunctional interaction, not parental distress or stress due to child behavior. Mothers and fathers agreed moderately in their relative standing and in the average levels of parenting stress in the 3 different domains of parenting stress at each time point. Mothers' and fathers' stress across domains were sometimes related. Conclusions. Mothers' and fathers' increased parenting stress across their child's transition to adolescence seems to derive from parent-child interaction rather than qualities of the parent or the child per se. Finding ways to maintain parent-child communication and closeness may protect parents and families from increased stress during this vulnerable time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-77
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Keith Crnic served as action editor for this article.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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