Associations between Parenting Hassles and Depressive Symptoms in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Mothers and Fathers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Parenting stress is associated with increased depressive symptoms in mothers and fathers of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but mothers report higher levels compared to fathers (Ozturk, Ricadonna, & Venuti, 2014). The effects of everyday parenting hassles on parental mental health have not been studied. Parenting hassles may have varying effects on depressive symptoms across mothers and fathers. Furthermore, parents’ perception of their quality of life is moderated by factors such as ethnicity (Schertz, Karni-Visel, Tamir, Genizi, & Roth, 2016). Thus, ethnicity may demonstrate similar moderating effects on depressive symptoms.
The goal of the current study was to examine whether parenting hassles were associated with depressive symptoms in mothers and fathers of children with ASD, and whether ethnicity (i.e., Hispanic versus Non-Hispanic) moderated this association.
Participants included mothers and fathers of 117 children between 2 and 10 years of age with ASD (Hispanic M = 6.49, SD = 2.38; non-Hispanic M = 6.75, SD = 2.28). Participants were recruited from a regional autism center providing resources and support to families of children with ASD across the lifespan. Mothers’ ages ranged from 20 to 55 (M = 38.33, SD = 6.05) while fathers’ ages ranged from 30 to 62 (M = 41.96, SD = 6.53). Parents were assessed for depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Inventory (CES-D; Devins et al., 1988; Radloff, 1977). The Parenting Daily Hassles (PDH) scale assessed daily hassles. Although this measure has four subscales, only Frequency and Challenging Behavior subscales were used in this study (Crnic & Greenberg, 1990).
PROCESS macro moderation analyses were conducted in SPSS for mothers and fathers to determine the effect of parenting hassles, ethnicity, and their interaction on depressive symptoms. For mothers, increases in depressive symptoms were predicted by frequency of hassles (b= .35, t(244) = 5.82, p = .0000) and challenging behaviors (b = .65, t(241) = 6.69, p = .0000), but ethnicity was not a significant moderator of those symptoms (b= .0075, t(244) = -.18, p = .86; b = .00, t(241) = .0007, p = 1.00). In fathers, increases in the frequency of hassles predicted an increase in depressive symptoms (b = .25, t(153) = 3.75, p = .0003) as did increases in challenging behaviors (b = .63, t(144) = 5.07, p = .0000), but ethnicity was not a significant moderator (b = -.021, t(153) = -.47, p = .64; b = -.015, t(144) = -.18, p = .86).
Frequency of parenting hassles and the presence of challenging behaviors predicted increases in depressive symptoms for both mothers and fathers of children with ASD. Although these associations were not significantly moderated by ethnicity, our findings suggests that parents, regardless of gender or ethnicity, are impacted negatively by everyday parenting-related hassles. These findings underscore the need to conduct further research aimed at better understanding the parental experience and developing interventions that effectively target these symptoms across diverse parent groups.