Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

June M. Tuma


This study investigated the effects of the child's specific ADHD symptoms, aggressive symptoms, and the parents' and child's locus of control orientation on parental stress. The frequently overlooked heterogeneous nature of the ADHD population was addressed, by assessing specific ADHD symptoms and the presence of aggressive symptomatology. Sixty boys, ages 6 to 12 years, diagnosed (using DSM-III-R criteria) as having ADHD by a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, and their parents participated in the study. Parents were asked to sign a consent form and complete measures of parental locus of control and parenting stress. A children's locus of control measure was administered to each child during his standard psychological assessment. Results indicated that each of the ADHD symptom clusters (inattention, and impulsivity/hyperactivity) and aggression was positively related to the expression of parental stress. However, specific patterns of relationships emerged: For mothers, the presence of aggressive symptomatology in their sons was most predictive of elevated levels of parental stress, while for fathers, increased levels of parental stress were most highly associated with symptoms of inattention. Parental locus of control orientation was found to be the most significant predictor of parental stress for both mothers and fathers. Specifically, it was found that a parent's perception that he/she has little influence or control over his/her child's behavior (external parental locus of control orientation) is highly related to increased levels of parental stress. The results of this study do not support the hypothesis that an external locus of control orientation in the child would be positively related to parental stress. The only significant interaction occurred between mothers' rating of impulsivity/hyperactivity symptoms and mothers' parental locus of control orientation. The major contributions of this study lie in the identification of differences between fathers and mothers as to which specific ADHD symptom clusters best predict parental stress, and the identification of parental locus of control orientation as a highly significant predictor of parental stress for both mothers and fathers. These findings will benefit researchers and clinicians involved in the assessment, development of interventions, and treatment of ADHD children.