Riding the Emotional Waves: Examining the Dynamics of Parenting Stress and Mood Lability in Real-Time using Ecological Momentary Assessment

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University of Guelph

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The present study examined bidirectional associations between parenting stress and mood lability in parents and children using technology-based Ecological Momentary Assessment. Mood lability (rapid/intense changes in emotions) and parenting stress are valuable and related within the family context. 11 families completed daily surveys on a smartphone app for 10-days. Lagged multilevel models were employed to analyze fluctuations in parenting stress and parent/child mood lability, with parent gender as a moderator. Mothers and fathers did not differ in their levels of parenting stress or mood lability. Moreover, parenting stress and parental mood lability were associated for fathers and not mothers. For fathers, prior day's mood lability negatively predicted the following day's parenting stress, while same-day mood lability positively predicted parenting stress. No significant associations emerged between parenting stress and child mood lability. These findings enhance an understanding of family dynamics, informing future research and interventions for effective emotion and stress management

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ecological momentary assessment, parenting stress, mood lability, family emotion dynamics

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