<p>Background: The COVID-19 pandemic drastically impacted on family life and may have caused parental distress, which in turn may result in an overreliance on less effective parenting practices. Objective: The aim of the current study was to identify risk and protective factors associated with impaired parenting during the COVID-19 lockdown. Key factors predicting maternal harsh discipline were examined in China, Italy, and the Netherlands, using a cross-validation approach, with a particular focus on the role of allomaternal support from father and grandparents as a protective factor in predicting maternal harshness. Methods: The sample consisted of 900 Dutch, 641 Italian, and 922 Chinese mothers (age M = 36.74, SD = 5.58) who completed an online questionnaire during the lockdown. Results: Although marital conflict and psychopathology were shared risk factors predicting maternal harsh parenting in each of the three countries, cross-validation identified a unique risk factor model for each country. In the Netherlands and China, but not in Italy, work-related stressors were considered risk factors. In China, support from father and grandparents for mothers with a young child were protective factors. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the constellation of factors predicting maternal harshness during COVID-19 is not identical across countries, possibly due to cultural variations in support from fathers and grandparents. This information will be valuable for the identification of at-risk families during pandemics. Our findings show that shared childrearing can buffer against risks for harsh parenting during COVID-19. Hence, adopting approaches to build a pandemic-proof community of care may help at-risk parents during future pandemics.</p>

doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.722453, hdl.handle.net/1765/136783
Frontiers in Psychiatry
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences