Developing a Conceptual Model of Coping with the Maternal Stress based on Coping Strategies of Satisfied Women: A Grounded Theory Approach

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D in counseling, Department of Counseling, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, College of Psychology, Department of Counseling, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran

3 Associate Professor, College of Psychology, Department of Counseling, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Tehran, Iran

4 Associate Professor, Department of Assessment and Measurement, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran


Objective: Unmanaged stress during parenthood can lead to poor performance of the family and inappropriate parenting in general. Therefore, it is necessary to identify optimal methods of dealing with stress.
Methods:  The present qualitative study was based on a grounded theory approach. The population included women (living in Tehran in 2021), who were satisfied with their lives and had at least one 6-year old child. After the initial investigation, from among 51 women, 11 women whose level of satisfaction with life was above the mean were selected through purposive sampling method. The research instrument included Diener's (1985) Satisfaction with Life scale and semi-structured interviews. The data obtained from the interview were analyzed through Strauss and Corbin’s method.
Results: The qualitative analysis of the interviews showed that satisfied women used strategies, such as preventing the spread of the problem, changing the situation, self-empowerment in processing negative emotions, communication activism, educational activism, conscious problem solving, and seeking professional help to deal with their maternal stress. The central factors included not giving up, solving the problem and activism to solve it. The causal factors included worrying about child's developmental delay/ developmental disorders, financial pressure, and role density/ role conflict. The underlying factors included agreement or disagreement in spouses' training methods, dynamism and activism, modeling and gaining experience, persistence and perseverance, feeling self-inefficiency in training, realism/ perfectionism, mother's independent personality/ feeling lonely, and living in the present time/ worrying about the future. The intervening factors included unwanted pregnancy/ spouse’ unwillingness to have children, perceiving the ineffectiveness of the efforts, comparing the growth of peers, worrying about providing facilities for the child's growth, and weakness in emotional regulation/ depression. The facilitating factors included the calmness of the child, the mother's personal space and recreation, the support of the spouse and families, and the mother's openness to experience. Finally, the consequences of coping with maternal stress included managing the emotions of the mother and the child, the child's taking responsibility, the enrichment of the marital relationship, the intimate relationship/ acceptance, and parents’ acceptance of the child and their companionship.
Conclusion: The results of the current study can be the basis for future studies. It can also assist formulating educational and therapeutic programs aimed at dealing with the stress caused by the birth of the first child.


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