Are neighbors and neighborhoods still important? Examining the impact of neighbors and neighborhood environments on mothers’ parenting stress

Soyoung Lee, Meejung Chin, Miai Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The contemporary neighborhood literature discusses the complex relationships among neighborhood environments, social support, and parenting. Grounded in the Person-Process-Context-Time (PPCT) model, we examined how different sources of social support interact with Korean mothers’ perception of disorder in their neighborhoods, and if social support increases or decreases their parenting stress in rural and metropolitan areas. Using STATA 14.0, we conducted multiple regression modeling including tests for interaction effects. Our sample (from the 8th Wave PSKC) included 1,300 mothers of seven-year-old children who were transitioning to first grade. The results showed that for metropolitan mothers, support from neighbors was important. Interestingly, receiving social support from friends/colleagues could increase or reduce their parenting stress depending on the type of residential neighborhood. Both rural and metropolitan mothers who reported negative impressions of their neighborhood environment experienced more parenting stress. However, these relationships disappeared when controlling for the interactions between mothers’ perception of disorder in their neighborhood and social support. These findings suggest that the social support that mothers receive from neighbors, and friends/colleagues, in general, play an important role in relieving parenting stress when raising first graders. However, living in disorganized, unsafe, or stressful neighborhood environments may restrict mothers’ parenting choices due to anxiety and limited outdoor space, resulting in increased parenting stress. Therefore, careful consideration of neighborhood characteristics is required to develop community-based parenting support services as part of family-friendly policies to effectively reduce the burden of parenting school-aged children in Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-343
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Neighborhood disorder
  • Neighbors
  • Parenting stress
  • School-aged children
  • Social support

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