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Exploring parental well-being : is childcare associated with parental well-being and what factors can enhance it Kushlev, Kostadin

Abstract

Recently, the idea that children can be detrimental to the well-being of their parents has gained popularity both amongst researchers and lay individuals. The previous research on parental well-being, however, has not provided any conclusive evidence in favour of this popular perception, and there is some research suggesting that parents might actually experience some benefits to their well-being as a result of having children. In addition, very little is known about the demographic and psychological factors that predict parental well-being. By overcoming various limitations of previous research designs, in the present research we examined whether taking care of children was associated with better cognitive and affective well-being outcomes. We further explored whether SES and child-centrism (i.e., the tendency of parents to put the well-being of their children before their own) were predictors of parental well-being. In a sample of 186 parents, we found that parents reported both more meaning and more positive affect when they were taking care of their children as compared to the rest of their day. We also showed that SES was negatively associated with the meaning parents experienced during childcare, a relationship that was mediated by the perceived opportunity cost of childcare. Finally, we demonstrated that when they were taking care of their children, more child-centric parents reported both more meaning and more positive affect than less child-centric parents. The implications of those findings for enhancing the well-being of parents as well as for improving future research on parental well-being are discussed.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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