Stepparents and parenting stress: the roles of gender, marital quality, and views about gender roles

Fam Process. 2014 Mar;53(1):97-108. doi: 10.1111/famp.12062.


Previous research suggests that stepparenting can be stressful, although the mechanisms that contribute to the experience of parenting stress in stepfamilies are less clear. This study examines gender, marital quality, and views about gendered family roles as correlates of parenting stress among 310 stepmothers, stepfathers, and biological mothers and fathers. Findings suggest that stepparents, and especially stepmothers, experience higher levels of parenting stress than biological parents. Findings also suggest that less traditional views about gendered family roles and higher dyadic adjustment are associated with lower parenting stress for stepparents, particularly in combination. Stepparents reporting both of these protective factors were indistinguishable in terms of parenting stress from biological parents. These findings indicate potential pathways to mitigate the stress associated with stepparenting.

Keywords: Gender; Marital quality; Parenting stress; Stepfamily.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires