The Effect of Parental Stress on Marital Quality in Parents of Children with Special Needs: The Mediating Role of Coping Styles


  • Jiang Nana
  • Nordin Mamat


Parents of Children with Special Needs, Parenting Stress, Coping Styles, Marital Quality


The issue of family marital quality has always been one of the hot topics of research in the field of family. The family is the basic unit and primary environment for the growth and development of children, and the structural integrity of the family and the marital performance of parents affect the physical and psychological development of children. The presence of a disability event is a serious negative life issue and source of family stress for family life, which can exacerbate the family's life difficulties and marital difficulties. Therefore, exploring the influential mechanisms behind the marital quality of parents of children with special needs is meaningful to repair the couple relationship of parents of children with disabilities and improve the quality of life of families. This study is a cross-sectional study that focuses on the relationship between parenting stress, coping styles, and marital quality of parents of special children using a questionnaire survey of 234 parents of special children from Chongqing, Shandong, and Sichuan, China. The results of the study showed that the parenting stress of children with special needs significantly affected marital quality, and the coping styles adopted by parents of children with special needs significantly affected their marital quality. Parents' coping styles partially mediated the relationship between parental stress and marital quality, i.e., parental stress affected marital quality both directly and indirectly through social support. The results of this study broaden the understanding of the intrinsic relationship between parenting stress and marital quality and explain the mediating role of coping styles in their relationship. Based on the findings, parents with special needs children should first adopt a positive coping style when facing parenting stressful events and marital problems, change self-perceptions of the events, and enhance their emotion regulation skills in order to reduce parenting stress and improve marital quality. At the same time, this study provides solid theoretical and practical implications for families of special needs children, social workers and policy makers.