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Perceptions of Parenting Stress, Parenting Styles, and Family Functioning in Hong Kong: Current Condition, Interrelationships, and Implications

This paper reports the results of a telephone survey, which attempted to systemically explore and identify the perceptions of Hong Kong parents of their parenting stress, parenting styles, and family functioning, as well as to examine the interrelationships among these three elements. It shows that the level of the parenting stress of local parents was not as high as had been predicted. Although parents found that their time was mostly taken up by their children, they still enjoyed the parenting process. The parenting style of local parents tended to be positive, suggesting that they behave warmly towards their children and have set reasonable demands on them. Perceptions of the family functioning of parents were in line with those of previous local studies and are still slightly unhealthy according to international criteria. The results of the bivariate and regression analyses revealed that single parents, parents with a lower family income, and those with a lower level of education experienced higher parenting stress when compared to those from nuclear or extended families, and those with a higher family income and of a higher level of education. Perceptions of family functioning were also lower among the former. Family income and educational attainment were influential in shaping parenting style. However, the parenting style of single parents did not differ significantly from that of parents of nuclear or extended families. There were negative relationship between parenting stress and parenting style; between parenting stress and perceived family functioning. However, parenting style was positively associated with perceived family functioning. Nevertheless, since this study was a one-time survey, the causal relationships among parenting stress, parenting style, and perceived family functioning have yet to be determined. Lastly, the implications of the findings on social work practice and policy formulation are discussed.
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