JOURNAL ARTICLE

The contribution of marital quality to the well-being of parents of children with developmental disabilities

J Kersh, T T Hedvat, P Hauser-Cram, M E Warfield
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research: JIDR 2006, 50: 883-93
17100949

BACKGROUND: This study examines the contribution of the marital relationship to the well-being of both mothers and fathers of children with developmental disabilities. Parent well-being is conceptualized in terms of mental health, parenting stress and parenting efficacy.

METHODS: These analyses are based on data from 67 families participating in the Early Intervention Collaborative Study, an ongoing longitudinal investigation of the development of children with disabilities and the adaptation of their families. Multidimensional assessment techniques were used to collect data from married mothers and fathers and their child with a disability. Mother and father data were analysed separately using parallel hierarchical regression models.

RESULTS: For both mothers and fathers, greater marital quality predicted lower parenting stress and fewer depressive symptoms above and beyond socio-economic status, child characteristics and social support. In relation to parenting efficacy, marital quality added significant unique variance for mothers but not for fathers. For fathers, greater social support predicted increased parenting efficacy. Child behaviour was also a powerful predictor of parental well-being for both mothers and fathers.

CONCLUSION: The findings support the importance of the marital relationship to parental well-being and illustrate the value of including fathers in studies of children with developmental disabilities.

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