Maternal and Infant Temperament Characteristics as Contributors to Parenting Stress in the First Year Postpartum

Authors

  • Kate B. Oddi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Emotion Regulation & Temperament Laboratory, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA
    • Correspondence to: Kate B. Oddi, Northern Illinois University, Department of Psychology, Emotion Regulation & Temperament Laboratory, Psychology-Computer Science Building, Rm. 400, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. E-mail: koddi1@niu.edu

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  • Kyle W. Murdock,

    1. Department of Psychology, Emotion Regulation & Temperament Laboratory, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA
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  • Sarah Vadnais,

    1. Department of Psychology, Emotion Regulation & Temperament Laboratory, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA
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  • David J. Bridgett,

    1. Department of Psychology, Emotion Regulation & Temperament Laboratory, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, USA
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  • Maria A. Gartstein

    1. Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA
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Abstract

Although prominent models emphasize that maternal, child, and situational variables are associated with parenting stress, previous research has often neglected to examine associations between maternal and infant temperament characteristics and stress experienced in the parenting role. Additionally, while predictors of global parenting stress have been examined, predictors of stress related to specific aspects of the parenting role have been largely unexplored. The present study examined maternal and infant temperament characteristics as predictors of parenting stress, both globally and specifically. Mothers (n = 159) completed measures of depressive and anxiety symptoms and a measure of adult temperament when their infants were 4 months old. At 6 months postpartum, caregivers completed a measure of infant temperament, and at 8 months postpartum, a measure of parenting stress. Results indicated that maternal effortful control and infant negative emotionality predicted global maternal parenting stress. Additionally, all maternal and infant temperament variables, with the exception of maternal negative affectivity and infant surgency/extraversion, were uniquely predictive of at least one specific aspect of parenting-related stress. Findings emphasize the importance of considering maternal and infant temperament characteristics as contributors to parenting stress in the first year postpartum. Implications of these findings for future research and intervention are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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