Parental stress and child rearing decisions

Document Type

Journal Article


Child Forum


Computing, Health and Science


Psychology and Social Science




This article was originally published as: Gray, C., & Sims, M. (2007). Parental stress and child rearing decisions. New Zealand Research in Early Childhood Education, 10, 105-118. Original article available here


In our modern society parenting is a difficult and undervalued task. Today parents raise children in isolation with very little support yet face immense criticism when they experience problems. Families who do not fit the western image of the ‘ideal family’ face even more stress (as they are pressured to conform) yet often find that available services do not easily meet their needs. This paper uses conversational interviews to develop a shared understanding of the experiences of these parents. The factors identified in this research were: the interaction between the desire to parent differently than their own parents, their stress levels, the satisfaction they experienced from the parenting role and their ability to develop a range of coping strategies. Coping strategies focused around the role of religion, culture and routines in providing frameworks for shaping their new lives, and the availability of practical and emotional support in giving parents the resources to manage.

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