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Title:The effect of children on the psychological well-being of parents
Author(s):Cordell-Brunton, Maxine Elaine
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Swicegood, C. Gray
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:The goal of my research is to examine the psychological well-being differences between parents and non-parents and examine the major factors that mediate the relationship between parenting and well-being. I formulate and test two models, one that incorporates the interactions implied by the social role framework and a second that examines the context of parenting suggested by the role context framework. In doing so, I use three specific role strains suggested by the literature to impact the depression levels of individuals generally and parents specifically: (1) perceived economic strain, (2) perceived general and intimate relationship strain, and (3) perceived familial role strain.
I expect to find that parents have significantly higher distress levels than non-parents. However, the literature indicates that the effect of parenting on distress is not additive. The social role theory of psychological distress predicts that the parent role operates in conjunction with other social roles to affect distress in an interactive manner. Moreover, social role theory and results from previous research predict that particular combinations of roles are more stressful than others. Therefore, I also expect to find that the effect of the parent role on psychological distress will be conditioned by other social roles, in particular, sex, marital status, and employment status. Further, the role context perspective of distress proposes that contextual features in the form of chronic strains (economic, relationship, familial role) mediate the relationship between the parent role and distress. I expect to find that differences in distress between parents and non-parents can be explained in part by through the examination of the context in which the role configurations are enacted.
The findings provide partial support for the first hypothesis that parents are more distressed than non-parents and clear support for the second general hypothesis that the effect of the parent role on psychological distress is conditioned by other social roles. Some parents are more distressed than non-parents and others are not. The effect of parenthood on psychological distress depends on the configuration of other social roles. Further, the effect of any particular social role is mitigated by other social roles.
The findings also provide general support for the third hypothesis. The strains associated with parenting significantly increase distress and serve as mediating factors in the relationship between parenting and psychological distress in five of the eight role configurations. The findings suggest that parenting can be beneficial to well-being under the right set of circumstances, which is contrary to most other research conclusions.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Cordell-Brunton, Maxine Elaine
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712239
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712239

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