Background Parenting stresses have consistently been found to be higher in parents of children with intellectual disabilities (ID); yet, some families are able to be resilient and thrive in the face of these challenges. Despite the considerable research on stress in families of ID, there is still little known about the stability and compensatory factors associated with everyday parenting stresses.
Methods Trajectories of daily parenting stress were studied for both mothers and fathers of children with ID across child ages 36–60 months, as were specific familial risk and resilience factors that affect these trajectories, including psychological well-being of each parent, marital adjustment and positive parent–child relationships.
Results Mothers' daily parenting stress significantly increased over time, while fathers' daily parenting stress remained more constant. Decreases in mothers' daily parenting stress trajectory were associated with both mother and father's well-being and perceived marital adjustment, as well as a positive father–child relationship. However, decreases in fathers' daily parenting stress trajectory were only affected by mother's well-being and both parents' perceived marital adjustment.
Conclusions Parenting stress processes are not shared entirely across the preschool period in parents of children with ID. Although individual parent characteristics and high-quality dyadic relationships contribute to emerging resilience in parents of children with ID, parents also affect each others' more resilient adaptations in ways that have not been previously considered.