Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 2265–2275 | Cite as

The Association Between Self-Critical Rumination and Parenting Stress: The Mediating Role of Mindful Parenting

  • Helena MoreiraEmail author
  • Maria Cristina Canavarro
Original Paper


Self-critical rumination is a type of rumination focused on the content of self-critical thoughts. Although self-criticism and rumination are two maladaptive psychological processes with a negative effect on parenting, including parenting stress, the role of self-critical rumination on parenting outcomes has never been explored. The aim of this study is to analyze the role of self-critical rumination on parenting stress and examine whether mindful parenting dimensions (listening with full attention, compassion for the child, non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning, emotional awareness of the child, and self-regulation in parenting) mediate this association. The moderating role of child’s age in the direct and indirect effects was also examined. A sample of 265 Portuguese mothers of children/adolescents from the general community completed measures of self-critical rumination, mindful parenting, and parenting stress. Self-critical rumination was negatively associated with all mindful parenting dimensions and positively associated with parenting stress. However, only non-judgmental acceptance of parental functioning and emotional awareness of the child dimensions were significant mediators of the relationship between self-critical rumination and parenting stress. The link between self-critical rumination and parenting stress as well as the indirect effects were not moderated by the child’s age. This study identifies an important maladaptive psychological process (self-critical rumination) that explains individual differences in parenting and a mechanism that may account for the link between self-critical rumination and parenting stress, which can both be modified through intervention.


Self-critical rumination Mindful parenting Parenting stress Mothers 


Author Contributions

H.M. conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, participated in the data collection, performed the statistical analysis, and worte the manuscript; M.C.C. revised the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology [Grant n° SFRH/BPD/70063/2010]

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Coimbra approved the study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Abidin, R. R. (1992). The determinants of parenting behavior. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 21, 407–412. Scholar
  2. Anthony, L. G., Anthony, B. J., Glanville, D. N., Naiman, D. Q., Waanders, C., & Shaffer, S. (2005). The relationships between parenting stress, parenting behaviour and preschoolers’ social competence and behaviour problems in the classroom. Infant and Child Development, 14(2), 133–154. Scholar
  3. Ayala-Nunes, L., Nunes, C., & Lemos, I. (2017). Social support and parenting stress in at-risk Portuguese families. Journal of Social Work, 17(2), 207–225. Scholar
  4. Beebe, B., Jaffe, J., Buck, K., Chen, H., Cohen, P., Blatt, S., & Andrews, H. (2007). Six-week postpartum maternal self-criticism and dependency and 4-month mother-infant self- and interactive contingencies. Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1360–1376. Scholar
  5. Beer, M., Ward, L., & Moar, K. (2013). The relationship between mindful parenting and distress in parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Mindfulness, 4(2), 102–112. Scholar
  6. Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: a process model. Child Development, 55(1), 83–96.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Berry, J. O., & Jones, W. H. (1995). The Parental Stress Scale: initial psychometric evidence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12, 463–472. Scholar
  8. Blatt, S. J., D’Afflitti, J. P., & Quinlan, D. M. (1976). Experiences of depression in normal young adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85(4), 383–389.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Blatt, S. J., & Zuroff, D. C. (1992). Interpersonal relatedness and self-definition: two prototypes for depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 527–562. Scholar
  10. Bögels, S., Hellemans, J., van Deursen, S., Römer, M., & van der Meulen, R. (2014). Mindful parenting in mental health care: Effects on parental and child psychopathology, parental stress, parenting, coparenting, and marital functioning. Mindfulness, 5(5), 536–551. Scholar
  11. Bögels, S., Lehtonen, A., & Restifo, K. (2010). Mindful parenting in mental health care. Mindfulness, 1(2), 107–120. Scholar
  12. Bögels, S., & Restifo, K. (2014). Mindful parenting: a guide for mental health practitioners. New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Casalin, S., Luyten, P., Besser, A., Wouters, S., & Vliegen, N. (2014). A longitudinal cross-lagged study of the role of parental self-criticism, dependency, depression, and parenting stress in the development of child negative affectivity. Self and Identity, 13(4), 491–511. Scholar
  14. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  15. Crnic, K. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (1990). Minor parenting stresses with young children. Child Development, 61(5), 1628–1637. Scholar
  16. de Bruin, E. I., Zijlstra, B. J. H., Geurtzen, N., van Zundert, R. M. P., van de Weijer-Bergsma, E., Hartman, E. E., & Bögels, S. (2014). Mindful parenting assessed further: psychometric properties of the Dutch version of the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting scale (IM-P). Mindfulness, 5(2), 200–212. Scholar
  17. De Lissnyder, E., Koster, E. H. W., Derakshan, N., & De Raedt, R. (2010). The association between depressive symptoms and executive control impairments in response to emotional and non-emotional information. Cognition and Emotion, 24(2), 264–280. Scholar
  18. Deater-Deckard, K. (1998). Parenting stress and child adjustment: Some old hypotheses and new questions. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 5(3), 314–332. Scholar
  19. Deater-Deckard, K. (2004). Parenting stress. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. DeJong, H., Fox, E., & Stein, A. (2016). Rumination and postnatal depression: a systematic review and a cognitive model. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 82, 38–49. Scholar
  21. Donaldson, C., Lam, D., & Mathews, A. (2007). Rumination and attention in major depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(11), 2664–2678. Scholar
  22. Duncan, L. (2007). Assessment of mindful parenting among parents of early adolescents: Development and validation of the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale. USA: The Pennsylvania State University. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation).Google Scholar
  23. Duncan, L., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. (2009). A model of mindful parenting: implications for parent–child relationships and prevention research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(3), 255–270. Scholar
  24. Fonseca, A., Nazaré, B., & Canavarro, M. C. (2015). Parenting an infant with a congenital anomaly: how are perceived burden and perceived personal benefits related to parenting stress? Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 22(1), 64 Scholar
  25. Gilbert, P. (2009a). The compassionate mind. London, UK: Constable & Robinson.Google Scholar
  26. Gilbert, P. (2009). Introducing compassion-focused therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 15, 199–208. Scholar
  27. Gilbert, P. (2010). Compassion focused therapy. Hove, East Sussex: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Gouveia, M. J., Carona, C., Canavarro, M. C., & Moreira, H. (2016). Self-compassion and dispositional mindfulness are associated with parenting styles and parenting stress: The mediating role of mindful parenting. Mindfulness, 7(3), 700–712. Scholar
  29. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: a regression-based approach. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  30. Heeren, A., & Philippot, P. (2011). Changes in ruminative thinking mediate the clinical benefits of mindfulness: preliminary findings. Mindfulness, 2(1), 8–13. Scholar
  31. Kabat-Zinn, J., & Kabat-Zinn, M. (1997). Everyday blessings: the inner work of mindful parenting. New York, NY: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  32. Krahé, B., Bondu, R., Hose, A., & Esser, G. (2015). Child aggression as a source and a consequence of parenting stress: a three-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25(2), 328–339. Scholar
  33. Mixão, M. L., Leal, I., & Maroco, J. (2010). Escala de Stress Parental [Parental Stress Scale]. In I. Leal & J. Maroco (Eds.), Avaliação em sexualidade e parentalidade. Porto: LivPsic.Google Scholar
  34. Moreira, H., & Canavarro, M. C. (2015). Individual and gender differences in mindful parenting: the role of attachment and caregiving representations. Personality and Individual Differences, 87, 13–19. Scholar
  35. Moreira, H., & Canavarro, M. C. (2016). Parental attachment insecurity and parenting stress: the mediating role of parents’ perceived impact of children’s diabetes on the family. Family, Systems and Health, 34(3), 240–209. Scholar
  36. Moreira, H., & Canavarro, M. C. (2017). Psychometric properties of the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale in a sample of Portuguese mothers. Mindfulness, 8(3), 691–706. Scholar
  37. Moreira, H., Carona, C., Silva, N., Nunes, J., & Canavarro, M. C. (2016). Exploring the link between maternal attachment-related anxiety and avoidance and mindful parenting: the mediating role of self-compassion. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 89(4), 369–384. Scholar
  38. Moreira, H., Gouveia, M. J., Carona, C., Silva, N., & Canavarro, M. C. (2015). Maternal attachment and children’s quality of life: the mediating role of self-compassion and parenting stress. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(8), 2332–2344. Scholar
  39. Moreira, H., & Maia, B. R. (2017). Psychometric properties of the European Portuguese version of the Self-Critical Rumination Scale. Unpublished Manuscript.Google Scholar
  40. Moreland, A. D., Felton, J. W., Hanson, R. F., Jackson, C., & Dumas, H. E. (2016). The relation between parenting stress, locus of control and child outcomes: Predictors of change in a parenting intervention. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 2046–2054. Scholar
  41. Neece, C. L., Green, S. A., & Baker, B. L. (2012). Parenting stress and child behavior problems: a transactional relationship across time. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117(1), 48–66. Scholar
  42. Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2000). The role of rumination in depressive disorders and mixed anxiety/depressive symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109(3), 504–511. Scholar
  43. O’Mahen, H. A., Boyd, A., & Gashe, C. (2015). Rumination decreases parental problem-solving effectiveness in dysphoric postnatal mothers. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 47, 18–24. Scholar
  44. Oddi, K. B., Murdock, K. W., Vadnais, S., Bridgett, D. J., & Gartstein, M. A. (2013). Maternal and infant temperament characteristics as contributors to parenting stress in the first year postpartum. Infant and Child Development, 22(6), 553–579. Scholar
  45. Ostberg, M., & Hagekull, B. (2000). A structural modeling approach to the understanding of parenting stress. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29(4), 615–625. Scholar
  46. Parent, J., McKee, L. G., Rough, J. N., & Forehand, R. (2016). The association of parent mindfulness with parenting and youth psychopathology across three developmental stages. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44(1), 191–202. Scholar
  47. Pimentel, M. J., Vieira-Santos, S., Santos, V., & Vale, M. C. (2011). Mothers of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: relationship among parenting stress, parental practices and child behaviour. ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, 3(1), 61–68. Scholar
  48. Potharst, E. S., Aktar, E., Rexwinkel, M., Rigterink, M., & Bögels, S. M. (2017). Mindful with your baby: feasibility, acceptability, and effects of a mindful parenting group training for mothers and their babies in a mental health context. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1236–1250. Scholar
  49. Priel, B., & Besser, A. (1999). Vulnerability to postpartum depressive symptomatology: dependency, self-criticism and the moderating role of antenatal attachment. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 18(2), 240–253. Scholar
  50. Priel, B., & Besser, A. (2000). Dependency and self-criticism among first-time mothers: the roles of global and specific support. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(4), 437–450. Scholar
  51. Psychogiou, L., & Parry, E. (2014). Why do depressed individuals have difficulties in their parenting role? Psychological Medicine, 44(7), 1345–1347. Scholar
  52. Putnick, D. L., Bornstein, M. H., Hendricks, C., Painter, K. M., Suwalsky, J. T., & Collins, W. A. (2010). Stability, continuity, and similarity of parenting stress in European American mothers and fathers across their child’s transition to adolescence. Parenting, Science and Practice, 10(1), 60–77. Scholar
  53. Rodriguez, C. M. (2011). Association between independent reports of maternal parenting stress and children’s internalizing symptomatology. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20, 631–639. Scholar
  54. Schleider, J. L., Patel, A., Krumholz, L., Chorpita, B. F., & Weisz, J. R. (2015). Relation between parent symptomatology and youth problems: Multiple mediation through family income and parent–youth stress. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 46(1), 1–9. Scholar
  55. Smart, L. M., Peters, J. R., & Baer, R. A. (2016). Development and validation of a measure of self-critical rumination. Assessment, 23(3), 321–332. Scholar
  56. Stein, A., Craske, M. G., Lehtonen, A., Harvey, A., Savage-McGlynn, E., Davies, B., & Counsell, N. (2012). Maternal cognitions and mother–infant interaction in postnatal depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121, 795–809. Scholar
  57. Stone, L. L., Mares, S. H. W., Otten, R., Engels, R. C. M. E., & Janssens, J. M. A. M. (2016). The co-development of parenting stress and childhood internalizing and externalizing problems. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 38(1), 76–86. Scholar
  58. Streisand, R., Swift, E., Wickmark, T., Chen, R., & Holmes, C. S. (2005). Pediatric parenting stress among parents of children with type 1 diabetes: the role of self-efficacy, responsibility, and fear. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 30(6), 513–521. Scholar
  59. Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., & Williams, J. M. G. (1995). How does cognitive therapy prevent depressive relapse and why should attentional control (mindfulness) training help? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33, 25–39. Scholar
  60. Vliegen, N., & Luyten, P. (2009). Dependency and self-criticism in post-partum depression and anxiety: a case control study. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 16(1), 22–32. Scholar
  61. Vliegen, N., Luyten, P., Besser, A., Casalin, S., Kempke, S., & Tang, E. (2010). Stability and change in levels of depression and personality: a follow-up study of postpartum depressed mothers that were hospitalized in a mother-infant unit. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198(1), 45–51. Scholar
  62. Wells, A. (2000). Emotional disorders and metacognition: innovative cognitive therapy. Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  63. Williford, A. P., Calkins, S. D., & Keane, S. P. (2007). Predicting change in parenting stress across early childhood: child and maternal factors. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35(2), 251–263. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioral InterventionUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

Personalised recommendations