The influence of support and stress on maternal attitudes

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Objectives: This study examines an expanded version of Belsky's (1984) multi-dimensional process model of parenting to determine whether changes in stress and support influence maternal attitudes during the first year of a child's life. Method: Data were collected from mothers of newborns eligible for Hawaii's Healthy Start program who had been randomly assigned to home visitation (n = 108) or control (n = 104) status. Multiple regression analyses were used to test hypotheses regarding the influence of change in contextual sources of support and stress on parenting attitudes as measured by the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI) Abuse Scale. A post hoc analysis of variance was conducted to explore interactions among the predictor variables and home visitation. Results: Stress in the form of change in public assistance status led to more punitive parenting attitudes while increased support from the partner and from close associates emerged as significant predictors of less punitive parental attitudes. The exploratory analyses suggest that home visitation may moderate the impacts of stress and support on maternal attitudes. Conclusions: In line with Belsky's (1984) process model of parenting, increased stress adversely impacted maternal attitudes regarding physical punishment while increased support exerted favorable effects. The results also support further elaboration of Belsky's model including the expansion of marital support to include unmarried partners and the need to consider the impact of formal support sources on parenting. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Child Abuse and Neglect