Distress and apprehension among new parents during the COVID-19 pandemic: The contribution of personal resources.

Orit Taubman - Ben-Ari, Ofir Ben-Yaakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study examined parental distress and apprehension about raising an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic among new Israeli parents, investigating the role of personal resources (low attachment avoidance and anxiety, high self-mastery) and various COVID-19-related anxieties and comparing mothers and fathers. A convenience sample of 606 Israeli parents (469 mothers and 137 fathers) whose first child was 3–12 months old was recruited through social media. No significant differences emerged between mothers and fathers in level of parental distress or apprehension. Poorer health, higher attachment avoidance and anxiety, lower self-mastery, and a higher level of COVID-19-related anxiety over going for infant health checkups contributed significantly to greater parental distress. Lower level of education, being a woman, higher attachment avoidance and anxiety, and higher levels of all COVID-19-related anxieties contributed significantly to greater pandemic-related apprehension. The findings show that new parents may experience parental distress and concerns about raising a child during the crisis, and that whereas specific COVID-19-anxieties are unrelated to global parental distress, they are linked to the apprehension aroused by the pandemic. Moreover, they highlight the contribution of parents’ personal resources, showing that lower attachment avoidance and anxiety are associated with lower distress and apprehension, whereas self-mastery is especially significant for lessening the apprehension about raising an infant in this period. These insights may be used in targeted interventions to reduce distress in vulnerable populations, such as individuals who recently became parents for the first time. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)<strong xmlns:lang="en">Public Policy Relevance Statement—The spread of COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020 is not merely a health threat, but also a psychological threat to parents’ well-being. Although parents to first-born children up to 12 months are at risk of experiencing psychological distress and apprehension over raising a child during the crisis, personal resources can play a protective role, helping to shield the individual from high levels of distress. Ensuring that these resources be recognized, nurtured, and empowered may assist them in coping with the challenges of their new role in a time of crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-816
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Volume90
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Israel
  • attachment orientations
  • parental distress
  • self-mastery

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