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date: 27 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Parenting a child with developmental or mental health problems is a lifelong process with unique challenges and adjustments. Parents of children with these conditions often experience chronic stress and an elevated risk of mental and physical health problems and cognitive decline in later life, although profiles of resilience have been noted. This chapter reviews Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) studies that have examined the lifelong effects of parenting children with developmental or mental health problems. MIDUS research has found that midlife and older parents of children with these conditions have poorer physical and mental health profiles and poorer cognitive functioning in later life than counterparts whose children do not have such conditions, and that mental and physical health disparities increase as parents age. Possible mechanisms underlying these differences have been examined in studies utilizing the multidisciplinary data of MIDUS, which include a variety of psychosocial, cognitive, and biological assessments.

Keywords: parenting, developmental problems, mental health problems, parents, children, MIDUS, physical health, mental health, cognitive functioning

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