Subjective happiness among mothers of children with disabilities: The role of stress, attachment, guilt and social support

Liora Findler, Ayelet Klein Jacoby, Lidia Gabis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background: Parenting a child with disabilities might affect the happiness of the mothers. Hence we adapted Wallander, Varni, Babani, Banis, and Wilcox's (1989) disability-stress-coping model to examine the impact of risk factors (specific stressors related to the child's disability) on the mother's adaptation (happiness). Intrapersonal factors (attachment) and social-ecological factors (social support) were hypothesized to predict adaptation. Both constitute 'risk-resistant' factors, which are mediated by the mother's perceived general stress and guilt. Method: 191 mothers of a child with a developmental disability (ages 3-7) answered questionnaires on happiness, specific and general stress, attachment, guilt and social support. Results: Attachment avoidance was directly and negatively associated with mothers' happiness. General stress was negatively associated with happiness, and mediated the association between anxious attachment, support, and specific stress with happiness. Guilt was negatively associated with happiness, and served as a mediator between attachment anxiety and support and happiness. Conclusion: The findings of the current research show direct and indirect associations of risk factors with happiness and the role of general stress and feelings of guilt as mediators. Implications: This study stresses the importance of attachment and social support to happiness and sheds light on the unique role of guilt in promoting or inhibiting happiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Shalem Fund for Development of Services for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in the Local Councils in Israel.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Children with disabilities
  • Happiness
  • Mothers


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