First Advisor

Ellen Skinner

Term of Graduation

Winter 1998

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Parenting -- Psychological aspects, Stress (Psychology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (122 pages)


This study examined the relationship of three different kinds of resources important to parenting to the degree of stress experienced by 58 mothers of small children who completed a questionnaire distributed through kindergarten classes in three public schools, and through three Head Start centers. Parenting sense of competence and internal working model of caregiving were examined as internal resources. Income level and stability and neighborhood characteristics were examined as external resources, and perceived available social support, which is both internal and external, was also examined. Interrelationships between the resources were predicted, as well as the unique contribution of each type of resource in predicting parenting stress. It was also proposed that income would moderate the effect of internal resources and of social support on stress.

Parenting sense of competence and internal working model of caregiving were highly related to each other and to stress, but did not interact in predicting stress. They were thus aggregated into a single internal resource variable. Income stability, neighborhood problems, and perception of neighborhood support were not related to stress and did not interact with income level in predicting stress. Income level was thus the sole external resource variable used in subsequent analyses. Each of the three kinds of resources had unique effects on parenting stress over and above the effect of the other two. Income and internal resources had an additive effect, but did not interact in predicting parenting stress. While not significant, the test for an interaction between income and social support was borderline and interpretation suggested that the effect of social support on stress might be reduced when income is low. Small sample size, limited variance on income, and a self-selection bias resulting in a sample of fairly high functioning mothers with only mild deficiencies in resources, limit the generalizability of findings.

The need for research that examines the effects of all three kinds of resources, so that the effects of financial resources on parenting stress may be examined in relationship to other resources, was discussed.


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