Multilevel factors influencing maternal stress during the first three years

Miriam Mulsow, Yvonne M. Caldera, Marta Pursley, Alan Reifman, Aletha C. Huston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


This prospective study applies family stress theory to the influence of personal, child, and familial factors on a mother's parenting stress during the first 3 years of her infant's life. Participants included 134 mothers and their infants at ages 1, 6, 15, 24, and 36 months from one site of a multisite, longitudinal study. Mother's personality was most predictive of parenting stress cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Intimacy with partner reduced parenting stress early in the infant's life and at 36 months, whereas general social support was more important in the second year. Child temperament was influential at 1 and 36 months. Counterintuitively, mothers who were more satisfied with work or school choices were more likely to be chronically stressed. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)944-956
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Family stress theory
  • Longitudinal study
  • Mothering
  • Parenting stress
  • Psychological well-being
  • Social support


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