Family risk research has established the deleterious effects of co-occurring family risks on mental health outcomes in parents of children with developmental disabilities, but only a paucity of research has explored their impacts on parents of typically developing children, especially in Eastern cultural contexts. Moreover, little is known about whether individual differences in dispositional mindfulness may buffer the negative impacts of the accumulation of family risks on mental health. This study examined the potential stress-buffering effect of dispositional mindfulness on the relationship between cumulative family risks and mental health in Chinese parents.
A total of 2237 Chinese parents (M age = 38.46 years, SD = 4.43 years) of school-aged children completed an online questionnaire. Parents self-reported their dispositional mindfulness and mental health. An overall and two domains (i.e., socioeconomic status (SES) related and parenting-related risks) of cumulative risk indices were created by the composite of six risk factors (i.e., low household income, unemployment, low educational level, high parenting stress, and severe child internalizing and externalizing symptoms).
Higher scores on overall family risks, as well as SES-related and parenting-related risks, were related to poorer mental health in parents. Moreover, dispositional mindfulness moderated the relationship between parenting-related risks and parental mental health, such that the negative impact of parenting-related risks was attenuated for parents with high dispositional mindfulness.
These findings provide additional support for the utility of mindfulness-based interventions to protect mental health of parents confronted with numerous family risk factors, especially those with heightened parenting-related risks.