The relationship between husband supportiveness and wife's adjustment to motherhood
Lawrence, Edith Catlin, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Abidin, Richard, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Cowan, Donna, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Waters, David, Department of Family Medicine, University of Virginia
The major purpose of the study was to examine the relationship between husband support and wife's parenting stress level. It was hypothesized that there would be a negative relationship between husband support and parenting stress. Specific aspects of husband support that were examined were: emotional support, acceptance of the father role, favorable evaluation of wife as mother,companionship, and direct service in child care and household tasks. Additionally, it was predicted that the couples' sex role ideology would have an intervening effect between support and stress, such that the negative relationship between parenting stress and husband support would be stronger for couples with an egalitarian sex role ideology. Thirdly, it was predicted that husband support would have a greater influence in mediating wife's parenting stress arising from mother characteristics than stress arising from either child or situational/demographic characteristics.
The subjects were 100 couples with a first child in the four to twelve month age range. It was predominantly a white, middle-class sample. The Parenting Stress Index (Burke & Abidin, 1978) was used to obtain an overall total stress score and subscale scores which provide information about specific sources of stress pertaining to child, mother, and situational/ demographic characteristics. The Husband Support Scale, designed by the researcher, was used to assess various aspects of husband support.
The data analysis revealed a significant inverse relationship between husband support and wife's parenting stress level. Aspects of husband support found to have the greatest relationship with stress were emotional support, acceptance of the father role, and favorable evaluation of wife as mother. The hypothesis that the negative relationship between parenting stress and husband support would be stronger for couples holding an egalitarian sex role ideology was not confirmed. Additionally, husband support explained the greatest amount of variance in stress arising from mother characteristics, but not significantly more than that explained in stress arising from situational/demographic characteristics. The results are discussed in terms of the interactive influence marital relations and parenting can have on each other, as well as on a new mother's parenting stress level.
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Husband and wife, Mother and child
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