A comparison of parental stress and marital/couple satisfaction as reported by parents raising children diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder: An online mixed methods study




Weber, Pamela

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The purpose of this online concurrent mixed methods study was to explore the stressors that parents that are raising a child that has been diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder experience and investigate the way these stressors impact both parenting and marital/couple satisfaction. The demographic variables explored in this study included parent level of education, parent age, parent relationship status, siblings, child gender, child age, child diagnosis, and type of professional who gave the child's diagnosis. Parents were first asked to complete qualitative questions that included how parents of a child diagnosed with PDD manage the following: discipline of their child, their parenting needs, their marital/couple satisfaction, and the quality of their marriage/relationship. This investigation assessed the differences between demographic variables and scores of stress as reported by parents on the Parenting Stress Index-Third Edition (PSI-3) and scores of spouses/couples as reported on the Marital Satisfaction Inventory-Revised (MSI-R). A statistical comparison was also completed on the scores of parents on both the PSI-3 and MSI-R.

Significant relationships were found to exist between parenting stress and the following variables: parent level of education, age and gender of parent and child, the type of professional who made the diagnosis, the diagnosis itself, and relationship status. When examining marital/couple satisfaction, significant relationships were found to exist with the following demographic variables: relationship status, parent level of education, and gender of the parent.

The findings from this study can be used to benefit parents, teachers, therapists, medical professionals and others who work with children who have been diagnosed with PDD. The most important consideration for professionals working with families that have a child that has been diagnosed with PDD is to recognize and communicate those boundaries that are needed for these families to function successfully both as parents and partners. All professionals working with these parents need to help them identify resources useful for dealing with both the demands of parenting and for maintaining a healthy relationship with their partner.

It is important to conduct additional research involving more fathers raising children with PDD. No research seems to exist exploring parent level of education, which was found to have a significant impact in the current study, and parenting stress or marital/couple satisfaction. Research should continue in the area of marital/couple satisfaction and how relationship satisfaction is impacted when raising a child that has been diagnosed with PDD.



Social sciences, Psychology, Marital satisfaction, Parenting, Pervasive developmental disorder, Stress