Examining the Relationship and Influence of Infant Temperament and Marital Satisfaction on Parenting

Open Access
Rossi, Melissa Suzanne
Area of Honors:
Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Cynthia Stifter, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kathryn Bancroft Hynes, Honors Advisor
  • infant temperament
  • marital satisfaction
  • parenting
Parental functioning may be broadly described as one’s childrearing strategies, parenting style, and behaviors when interacting with the child. Parental functioning has been shown to be influenced by the parent’s personal psychological resources, characteristics of the child, and contextual sources of stress and support (Belsky, 1984). The primary aim of this study was to examine the predictive relationship of child temperament and marital satisfaction at 12 months of age on parental nurturance and restrictiveness at 24 months of age; inter-parent comparisons were also examined. A total of 375 participants were utilized in this study: 125 mothers, 125 fathers, and 125 children. The sample was recruited as part of a longitudinal study following infants and their families from 2 weeks to 25 months of age (Putnam & Stifter, 2002). Results indicate that marital satisfaction within couples was positively associated. The relationship between child temperament and parenting found one significant negative association between surgent child temperament and mother’s restrictiveness. Father’s parenting behaviors were not related to child temperament. The relationship between marital satisfaction and parenting rendered one nearly significant positive association between father’s marital satisfaction and nurturance. Results indicate that mother’s nurturance and restrictiveness were more strongly predicted by child temperament, specifically surgency, than by marital satisfaction. Father’s nurturance was more strongly predicted by marital satisfaction than by child temperament. Relationships between child temperament and marital satisfaction were not found. One significant interaction revealed that while marital satisfaction did not affect the relationship between high surgency and restrictive parenting, when fathers of low surgent children were dissatisfied in their marriages they were more likely to be restrictive than if they had high marital satisfaction. Future research and limitations of this study are discussed.