COVID-19 stress, marital conflict, social capital, and parenting of preschoolers

Woon Kyung Lee, Young Sun Joo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to examine associations between mothers' COVID-19 stress, marital conflict, and parenting, focusing on mothers raising children ages 3–5. Specifically, we examined the potentially protective role of mothers' social capital for parenting behaviors. Background: Despite numerous studies reporting the negative impacts of mothers' stress on marital relationships and parenting behaviors, little is known about how mothers' stress due to COVID-19 is associated with marital conflict and parenting behaviors. Method: We collected data from 306 mothers in South Korea in 2021 during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: We found that marital conflict significantly mediated the relationship between mothers' COVID-19 stress and positive parenting behaviors. The moderating effect of social capital was not significant in the negative relationship between COVID-19 stress and positive parenting behaviors but was significant in the negative relationship between marital conflict and positive parenting behaviors. Further analysis showed a significant negative relationship between marital conflict and positive parenting only when the level of social capital was equal to the mean value or higher, and the relationship was stronger with higher levels of social capital. Conclusion: The findings show that mothers' stress due to COVID-19 can be associated with increased marital conflict and decreased parental functioning. Implications: The significant moderating effect of social capital in the relationship between marital conflict and positive parenting behaviors highlights the need to examine social capital's role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Relations
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 National Council on Family Relations.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • marital conflict
  • parenting behavior
  • social capital
  • stress

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