Grandmother Support for Parents of Children With Disabilities: Gender Differences in Parenting Stress

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Abstract

Grandparents, and particularly grandmothers, are an important source of family support for parents of young children with developmental disabilities. This study, examines the relationship between parenting stress of mothers and fathers and their grandmother support, self-esteem, and key family attributes. For mothers (N = 60), Time1 self-esteem, and emotional support from maternal and paternal grandmothers jointly accounted for 28% of the variance in parenting stress at Time2. Higher self-esteem and grandmother emotional support were related to lower parenting stress in mothers. For fathers (N = 41), Time1 self-esteem and Time 1 level of parenting stress in their conjugal partners accounted for 28% of the variance with parenting stress at Time2. Higher self-esteem and lower spousal parenting stress were related to low parenting stress in fathers. While support from grandmothers was an important predictor of parenting stress for mothers, grandmother support did not predict parenting stress over time for fathers. These findings suggest important gender patterns in the value of grandparent support and the saliency of parent self-esteem in coping with parenting stress by parents of young children with developmental disabilities.

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