Parenting During COVID-19: A Study of Parents' Experiences Across Gender and Income Levels

Fam Relat. 2021 Dec;70(5):1327-1342. doi: 10.1111/fare.12571. Epub 2021 Jul 23.


Objective: This study describes parenting experiences at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and examines differences across parent gender and family income level.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic had unprecedented impacts on families. Many parents faced employment changes, including job loss, reduced pay, and working remotely, while simultaneously experiencing increased childcare responsibilities due to school and childcare closures. Research is needed to document the ongoing impact of these changes on parents and families.

Method: An online convenience sample of parents (N = 1,009) reported on their parenting experiences during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020) in an online survey.

Results: Parents reported high levels of depression, anxiety, and parental burnout. Further, many parents reported increased negative emotions, such as anger and worry, while simultaneously feeling closer to their children and offering more comfort and soothing. Differences across gender and income levels are presented.

Conclusion: These results align with other emerging findings of increased impacts to mental health and well-being for parents and children and document the disproportionate effects on women and low-income families.

Implications: Implications include needing additional support (e.g., financial, caregiving) for parents and families as we continue to face the impacts and consequences of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID‐19; emotion; fathers; mental health; mothers; parenting.