Parents in middle adulthood: Exposure and reactivity to daily child-related experiences
AuthorChandler, Amy Louise Wiles
AdvisorAlmeida, David M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of the present study was twofold; it examined midlife parents' exposure to daily child-related events as well as the daily emotional reactivity that parents experience in association with these events. The premise of the study is that children can influence the well-being of their parents and that both daily exposure and reactivity to child-related experiences differ with the age of child as well as parental gender. Two conceptual frameworks, generativity and stress theory are used to explain how children influence parents' development and well-being. The study variables included daily child-related stressful events of high and low severity, daily emotional support parents provided their children, and parents' negative mood. Data for these analyses are from the National Study of Daily Experiences. The sample for the present study consisted of parents of minor children, ages 1 to 21 (n = 214; 107 mothers, 107 fathers), and parents of adult children, ages 22 and above (n = 287; 107 mothers, 180 fathers). The findings indicated that there were no significant parent gender or child age differences in exposure to high severity stressors, but there were parent gender and child age differences in low severity stressors and emotional support. Mothers of children of all ages experience more frequent low severity daily stressors and provide more emotional support than do fathers. Parents of minor children also experience more frequent daily low severity stressors and provide more emotional support than do parents of adult children. However, parents of minor children do not experience more severe events than parents of adult children. For parents of adult children, the proportion of severe stressors to all stressors was much greater than for parents of minor children. In other words, when a parent of an adult child experiences a child-related stressor, it is more likely to be very serious than when a parent of a minor child experiences a child-related stressor. Last, in relation to parental well-being, this daily stressor study showed that low severity stressors are associated with parents' negative mood. Parent gender nor child age moderated the effects of stressors on negative mood. What this might indicate is that it is truly the persistent, mundane child-related stressors that wear a parent down. Implications of this study show that child-related stressors can also enhance parental development and well-being through opportunity for generativity.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Family and Consumer Sciences