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Parenting in the time of COVID-19


Madelon M. E. Riem, Paul Lodder, Jing Guo, Michelle Vrielink-Verpaalen, Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Pietro De Carli


The COVID-19 pandemic upended family life: Parents worried about their own and their families’ health, job losses, and salary reduction while keeping up family life in social isolation. For some families, the sequelae of the pandemic may lead to heightened psychological distress and, in turn, an overreliance on less effective parenting practices, such as a harsh disciplinary style or even child abuse or neglect, with negative impact upon children’s wellbeing. In an ongoing study, funded by a COVID-19 fast-track data NWO grant, we are examining risk and protective factors for harsh parenting during the COVID-19 lockdown in the Netherlands, Italy, and China, in collaboration with Padua University (dr. Pietro De Carli) and Peking University (dr. Jing Guo). A total of 3073 Dutch, Italian, and Chinese parents completed questionnaires on harsh parenting, family functioning, parental psychopathology, and children’s wellbeing during the period of closures of schools and day care centers. Parenting will be examined across countries in order to learn from similarities and differences in support systems that may buffer effects of the pandemic and to identify potential protective factors. We particularly focus on mothers who still often are the primary caregiver and may have been most impacted by the crisis. Our main hypotheses are that 1) allomaternal support from fathers and grandparents facilitates mothers’ adaptability and mitigate the effects of pandemic-related distress on maternal caregiving abilities, and 2) the constellation of factors contributing to maternal harsh parenting during COVID-19 is subject to cultural variations in family composition and may therefore vary across countries. For questions regarding data or collaboration: Madelon Hendricx-Riem.

Contact Information

Madelon Hendricx-Riem. m.riem@psych.ru.nl