Parenting stress and social support in families with children with Fragile X syndrome: a comparison of mothers and fathers Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Long, Anna Christine James
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • The primary purpose of this study was to address a gap in previous research by describing and directly comparing maternal and paternal stress using an etiology-specific sample of families with children with fragile X syndrome (FXS). The study completed an across parent gender examination of the relationship of social support and parenting stress in order to: (a) initiate research regarding differences in magnitude of contribution of variables to maternal versus paternal stress, and (b) advance research regarding the development of effective parent interventions. The study sample consisted of 38 families, including 76 parents (38 mother-father dyads) and their male (n = 30) and female (n = 8) child with FXS. All mothers had the premutation form of FXS, while target children had the full mutation and ranged in age from 3 years- 6 months to 10 years- 6 months. In a major finding, this study showed the importance of moving beyond typical examinations of group means when making comparisons of mothers' and fathers' parenting experiences. In the present study, no significant group mean differences were found in mothers' versus fathers' reported parenting stress or perceived social support. Yet, upon further examination of data, original findings suggesting similar levels of maternal and paternal stress and social support proved misleading. First, a lack of inter-parent agreement on measures of parenting stress and social support revealed mothers and fathers often have different experiences despite living within the same households. Second, differences in parent domain stress between mothers and fathers lent support for a vulnerability to heightened parenting stress due to mothers' premutation status. No difference was found in the relationship of social support to parenting stress when examining across parent gender. However, consistent relationships were found between parenting stress and family support as well as parenting stress and child problem behavior when salient variables were controlled for. Post hoc exploratory analyses exposed one promising area for future research. Namely, data indicated a difference in mothers' versus fathers' stress response to similar levels of child problem behavior. As child problem behavior increased, maternal stress increased at a significantly higher rate than paternal stress.
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  • In Copyright
  • Roberts, Jane Elizabeth
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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