The impact of parent empowerment in children’s mental health services on parenting stress.


Emotional and behavioral (EB) problems in children are associated with increased perceptions of strain in parenting. Among children receiving services, parenting stress has been linked to initiating services for their children, and may strain the relationship between parent and child. In contrast, parental engagement and empowerment in services is an important quality indicator for positive treatment outcomes. However, no known studies have examined the association between parent empowerment in their child’s services and their perceptions of stress related to parenting a child with significant mental health needs. Further, no studies have explored whether empowerment moderates the relationship between the child’s symptoms and parental perceptions of stress. The current study examined the impact of child EB problems and parent empowerment on parenting stress. Among a sample of 525 parents of children receiving school-based services for disruptive behavior disorders, child EB problems significantly predicted parenting stress. Parent empowerment also correlated with lower parenting stress, as hypothesized. Although parent empowerment was not found to moderate the relationship between child symptomatology and parenting stress, the relationship between parent empowerment and parenting stress differed based on child gender and age. Parent empowerment was associated with lower parenting stress more for parents of females and younger children than for parents of males and older children.