Childrearing, Parental Health, and the Moderating Role of Mattering

Reed DeAngelis , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
John Taylor, Florida State University

This study addresses whether the sense of mattering, or the perception that one meaningfully impacts the lives of salient others, conditions the relationship between childrearing and parental health. We test this hypothesis with cross-sectional survey and biomarker data from Vanderbilt University’s Nashville Stress and Health Study, a probability sample of non-Hispanic white and black adults from Davidson County, Tennessee (2011–2014; n = 1,252). Results from multivariate regression analyses indicate that the number of children living in a respondent’s home is positively associated with depressive symptoms, anger, and allostatic load. Moreover, linear and quadratic regression equations reveal both additive and multiplicative associations between the number of children in the home and poor health. Finally, the sense of mattering attenuates (i.e., buffers) these associations, especially for parents with a large number of children in the home. We discuss the implications and limitations of our findings and outline avenues for future research.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity