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Marital Satisfaction, Parenting Stress, and Coparenting for Parents of Dual-Earner Families
ABSTRACT The purpose of this research is to explore the relations between and among martial satisfaction, parenting stress and coparenting and parents of dual-earner families (DEF) with different demographic characteristics. In this study, quantitative data was collected from a proportionate stratified sample of 579 parents living in Taipei City. The participants are dual-earner parents who have children aged 3 to 6 in the 14 public and private pre-schools of the 12 administration areas of Taipei City. The number of samples taken from each pre-school is proportional to the population of the corresponding administration area. The research instrument used is “Questionnaire of parents’ feeling and marital relations”, including 3 sub-scales: the Parenting Stress Inventory developed by the author, the Parenting Alliance Inventory (PAI), and the Kansas Marital Satisfaction Scale (KMS). Data from the questionnaires are analyzed by independent-samples T test, one-way analysis of variance”, and Pearson product-moment correlation. The major findings of this research are as follows: A. Overall statistical results of the relations between marital satisfaction, parenting stress, and coparenting and parents of DEF In general, the majority (75%) of the Taiwanese parents expressed satisfaction with their marriage; but 6.6% of the parents were unsatisfied. More than 50% of parents reported higher parenting stress; among them, 5.8% of the parents feel very heavy stress. Elements of parenting stress from highest to lowest are: external environment, financial cost, role conflict, intimate relation dissatisfaction, and family relations. For coparenting evaluation, more than 90% of the parents give themselves higher-degree coparenting; but 6.4% of the response is low. B. Differences in marital satisfaction, parenting stress and coparenting in relation to different demographic characteristics of DEF parents I. In terms of gender and socio-economic status differences, both have significant influence on marital satisfaction, parenting stress and coparenting. Men reported higher marital satisfaction levels than women. Women recorded heavier parenting stress than men. Men feel they demonstrate a higher-degree of coparenting than women. II. The correlation between parents of different socio-economic status and how they view their relationship in various aspects of their marriage was significant: members of the high and middle socio-economic status enjoy higher levels of marital satisfaction than parents with low socio-economic status. For “spouse performance” and “spouse relations”, parents of middle socio-economic status indicate higher satisfaction than parents of low socio-economic status. For parenting stress, parents of middle socio-economic status feel heavier stress than parents of high socio-economic status. In the areas of financial cost and family relations, parents of middle and low socio-economic status report heavier stress than parents of high socio-economic status. III. In terms of differences in age and education, both have significant impact on coparenting for parents. For family relations, parents below 35 suffer heavier stress than those aged 36 to 40. For financial cost, parents with only a high school diploma face heavier stress than those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. For family relations, parents with a high school diploma have heavier stress than those with a master’s degree. IV. Family construction differences lead to significant impacts on two variables: marital satisfaction and parenting stress. For marital satisfaction, couples living with parents record higher satisfaction than couples not living with parents. For parenting stress, couples living with parents are subject to heavier stress than those not living with parents. C. Relations among parenting stress, coparenting and marital satisfaction of DEF parents There are significant correlations among parenting stress, coparenting and marital satisfaction: parenting stress and marital satisfaction have a negative correlation; coparenting and marital satisfaction are positively correlated; and parenting stress and coparenting show negative correlation. Based upon the above results, it is found that for DEF parents: the higher parenting stress, the lower satisfaction and lower coparenting. Therefore, to help DEF parents to upgrade their marital satisfaction and coparenting while lowering parenting stress, some areas of education application and future research direction are proposed: A. Education application To parents: through communication, couples needs to find the subtle balance point among their multiple roles; parents should remember that the key point of teaching children is to learn children’s viewpoints to deal with their world; make fully use of resource management and financial planning to help the family achieve different goals in life; do not ignore sex and intimate feelings; communicate with parents frankly and honestly; encourage fathers to become involved in teaching and raising children; skillfully make use of other people’s support to effectively reduce parents’ stress. Suggestions for the contents of a family education program: find topics for combining parenting stress adjustment and encourage parents’ involvement in parenting and marriage education. For parents with different backgrounds, different courses need to be provided: for men and for women separately, for young parents who have the most intensive need for learning, for parents with only a high school education to understand how to become upwardly mobile, for low-income families needing information about social welfare/support, and provide the topics to facilitate communication between different generations. B. Future research direction There are four suggestions for future research. First, future studies would explore the content of parenting stress after children are born to further understand the impact on marital satisfaction. Second, future research might well enlarge the scope of this study sample. Third, future research should be undertaken using different research methods, such as qualitative interview methods, observational measures of coparenting and whole family interaction, and longitudinal research in order to provide different angles on some issues. Lastly, future research might use the multi-dimensional marital satisfaction inventory and coparenting inventory to understand the correlation and influence among parenting stress, coparenting and marital satisfaction from different dimensions.
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