The current study investigates associations between parents’ perceived coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) psychological impacts and experiences of parental burnout, children’s behaviors, and income.
Data were collected during an online survey of parents’ (N = 1000) pandemic experiences in April 2020. Parents (M = 36.5 years old, SD = 6.0; 82.1% White) with at least one child 12 years or younger reported on measures of mental health, perceived COVID-19 impacts, parental burnout, and perceived increases in children’s stress and positive behaviors.
Path model analyses revealed that parents who perceived increased psychological impacts from COVID-19 reported higher levels of parental burnout, greater increases in children’s stress behaviors, and less positive behavior in children. Additionally, there were significant indirect effects of parental burnout on the link between COVID-19 psychological impacts and children’s behaviors. Finally, family income moderated associations between psychological impacts and children’s stress behaviors, such that the association was stronger for families with lower income.
These results suggest parents’ perceptions of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health has implications for parent and child well-being, with stronger associations for low-income families. Given the potential for spillover effects between parents and children, promoting family well-being through practice and policy initiatives is crucial, including providing financial and caregiving relief for parents, and mental and behavioral health support for families.