Source Publication (e.g., journal title)

Child Abuse & Neglect

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2004


Objective: In a previous study,we found that newmothers could andwould express concerns about their parenting, including concerns about maltreatment and poor care. In this study,we examine the utility of early maternal concerns for predicting parenting stress in the first year. Parenting stress is important because it has been shown to be related to maltreatment and poor parent-child relationships.

Method: A sample of 246 mothers were interviewed shortly after delivery in a publicly funded hospital about their parenting concerns, and 93% were reinterviewed in their homes about their parenting when the infants were 6 to 12 months old. Standardized measures with demonstrated psychometric properties were employed, including a measure of parenting stress due to the demands of the parenting role, characteristics of the child that make him or her difficult to care for, and stress due to difficult interactions.

Results: Multiple regression results indicate that both mothers concerns at delivery and sociodemographic variables are significant predictors of all three types of parenting stress in infancy. Maternal concerns were more powerful than sociodemographics in predicting stress related to the demands of parenting, while sociodemographics were more powerful for the prediction of stress related to difficult child characteristics and difficult mother-infant interaction.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that knowledge of new mothers’ parenting concerns might be useful for predicting parenting problems, as well as for engaging mothers in and enhancing the effectiveness of parenting services.

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