Maternal Neural and Parasympathetic Regulation and Parenting Stress
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We examined the relation between maternal neural (delta-beta coupling [coupling]) and autonomic (respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA]) regulatory processes and mothers’ parenting stress longitudinally. It was expected that maternal neural regulation would negatively predict parenting stress while autonomic regulation would positively predict parenting stress. A subsample of mother-child dyads (N=51) from a larger longitudinal study in Dr. Elizabeth Kiel’s lab was used. Dyads participated in a lab visit at child age 2. Mothers provided consent and participated in episodes designed to elicit a range of reactions to novel situations (i.e., gentle arm restraint, snack delay, spider) with their child. RSA was collected during each of these emotion eliciting paradigms. Two weeks later, coupling was measured when mothers returned to the lab for an electroencephalography (EEG) visit during which time mothers watched videos of their children in the emotion eliciting paradigms. At child age 4, mothers completed the Parenting Stress Index. Results suggested that, in this sample, maternal coupling and RSA did not significantly predict maternal parenting stress longitudinally. It is possible that the episodes used were not emotion eliciting for mothers as the episodes have been designed as emotion eliciting for toddlers. It is also possible that these measures of coupling and RSA simply do not relate to perceived parenting stress.
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