|Abstract (english)|| |
Introduction: Youth sport has recently become topic of interest in growing number of research. They are conducted with general aim of fostering the optimal development of young athletes as well as providing support to people involved in youth sports. In these research, the focus is put not only on the athletes and their coaches, but also on the parents who represent an important part of their children's sport experience (Wuerth et al., 2004). Alongside of coaches, parents are the most important adults involved in youth sport (Byrne, 1993) and their role remains important even when sport activities reach the level of elite sport (Gould et al., 2002). However, past research suggests that parents experiece different types of stressors and use numerous coping strategies to cope with them (Burgess et al., 2016; Harwood & Knight, 2009a,b; Harwood et al., 2019). Therefore, it can be concluded that supporting children in ther sport participation can bring in many positive experiences for their parents, but also represent an unique challenge because role of the sport parent is not an easy one and requires many sacrifices (Wiersma & Fifer, 2008). There are numerous studies that have investigated stress, stress appraisal and coping among athletes and coaches (Britton et al.,2019; Crocker & Graham, 1995; Didymus, 2017; Doron & Martinent, 2016; Dugdale et al., 2002; Gaudreau & Blondin, 2002; Levy et al., 2009). However, only a small number of studies investigated stress of parents in sport context (Burgess et al., 2016; Harwood et al., 2019; Harwood et al., 2010; Harwood & Knight, 2009a,b). Two theories are most commonly used as theoretical framework in this area: (1) Transactional theory of stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and (2) Cognitive-motivationalrelational theory (Lazarus, 1991, 1999, 2000). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) define psychological stress as a relationship between a person and it's environment when the person experiencing stress assesses it as reaching or exceeding his/her available resources and jeopardizing his/her well-being. In doing so, cognitive apraisal and coping with stress are considered fundamental theoretical constructs of stress and emotions that together constitute the process (Lazarus, 1999). According to the aforementioned theories, this process begins with the individual facing an environmental requirement (stressor) that is estimated as important for his personal well-being and which either threatens that well-being or is greater than the resources that the person estimates he has (Lazarus, 1999; Lazarus and Folkman, 1984). The psychological meaning that a person constructs about what happens (the so-called cognitive appraisal) is crucial in creating the reaction of stress and the emotions that arise from it (Lazaurs, 1999). Building on Transactional theory of stress (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984), Cognitive-motivational-relational theory (CMRT; Lazarus, 1991) describes 3 levels of this process: (1) antecedents (environmental and personal factors), (2) mediation processes (stressor appraisals, readiness for action and coping) and (3) outcomes (immediate: physiological changes, affect, quality of outcomes, and long-term: social functioning, wellbeing and physical health/disease). Research aim and problems: Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine the psychological stress and coping strategies of parents of children engaged in martial arts. Whithin this aim the four problems are stated: (1) Examine what stressors are experienced by parents of children who play martial arts related to the sports development of their children (2) Examine whether there are gender differences in stress appraisals, ways of coping with stress and emotions of parents of athletes, (3) Examine the predictiveness of stress appraisals for ways of coping with stressors used by the parents of athletes and (4) Examine the predictiveness of stress appraisals and coping methods for the pleasant and unpleasant emotions that parents of athletes experience as a reaction to stressors related to their children's sports. Methods: A total of 199 parents participated in this study. There were 61 (30.7%) fathers and 138 (69.3%) mothers. Average age of parents was 42.7 (SD = 5.76) years. Parents reffered to (61.3%) boys and 77 (38.7%) girls. Average age of their children was 11.8 (SD = 3.27) years. Parents reported that their children were involved in following sports: judo (N=125; 62.8%), taekwondo (N=33; 16.6%), karate (N=30; 15.1%), wrestling (N=6; 3%) and kickboxing (N=5; 2.5%). Accoring to parents, their children were involved in martial arts for average of 5.68 (SD = 3.22) years. The stressors that parents experience were measured with one open-ended question. All the following questionnaires were filled in reference to that particular stressor. Stress appraisal was measured using the Stress appraisal measure (Peacock & Wong, 1990) expanded with subscales of loss and benefit which are adapted from the research conducted by Thompson and colleagues (2020). After that, participants filled the Coping of sports parents questionnaire constructed for this research. Furthermore, in order to measure the emotions of parents the Sport emotion questionnaire (Jones i sur. 2005) was used. Qualitative hierarchical content analysis was used to answer the first research problem. MANOVA and multilevel regression analysis were used to answer the second, third and fourth research problems. Results and discussion: The results confirm that the parents of athletes experience numerous competitive, organisational and developmental stressors, thus confirming the consistency of similar findings in the contexts of different sports. Furthermore, the results indicate that there is no statistically significant differences between mothers and fathers of young athletes in the ways in which they appraise stressors, as well as in the coping strategies they use in dealing with stressors related to their children's sports. On the other hand, this study confirmed a difference in the emotions experienced by mothers and fathers of young athletes. Mothers experienced higher levels of anxiety, excitment and happiness related to the stressor compared to fathers. Related to the third research problem, resutls of this study indicate that control appraisal and loss appraisal are positive predictors of the problem solving coping strategy. Participants who assessed that they had a higher level of control over the situation and who assessed the stressful situation to a greater extent as a loss used the coping strategy aimed at solving the problem more. Furthermore, the loss appraisal was the only one that proved to be a significant and positive predictor of the venting emotions coping strategy. In particular, participants who assessed stressors to a greater extent as losses made greater use of a coping strategy aimed at venting emotions. Control and loss appraisals proved to be a positive predictor of the avoiding the situation and seeking distraction coping strategy. The parents that perceived they had more control over the stressful situation and who assessed the stressful situation to a large extent as a loss, used the coping strategy of avoiding the situation and seeking distraction more often. Regarding pleasant emotions, the results of our research indicate that the gains appraisal is a positive predictor of emotions of excitment and happiness, and that the loss appraisal is a negative predictor of the emotion of happiness. Participants who assessed stressors more as gain experienced higher levels of excitement and happiness, and participants who evaluated stressors more as losses experienced lower levels of happiness. Regarding unpleasant emotions, loss appraisal and coping with stress through venting emotions have proven to be statistically significant and positive predictors of anxiety, anger and dejection. Participants who assessed the situation more as a loss and who made greater use of the coping strategy of venting emotions experienced higher levels of unpleasant emotions (anxiety, anger and dejection). Furthermore, the gain appraisal has proven to be a negative predictor of anger and dejection. Conclusion: This research represents a significant step forward in understanding parents’ stress in sport context because it represents the first such research conducted in Croatia and certainly one of the few conducted outside the territory of Great Britain. Also, this study is the first study to examine the stress faced by parents of children engaged in martial arts and the first to involve parents from multiple sports. Furthermore, this study took into account the categories of primary appraisal used in the study conducted by Harwood and colleagues (2019), as well as secondary appraisal, and linked them to the emotions and coping strategies of athletes' parents. This methodology is logical with regard to theoretical constructs in the field (Lazarus, 1991, 1999, 2000; Lazarus and Folkman, 1984) and has not been used before in any study of stress that parents of the athletes experience. Although there are numerous studies of how other participants are coping with stress in a sporting context (e.g. Britton et al., 2019; Didymus, 2017; Nicholls et al., 2005) the methodologies used in them are very different and there is no consensus on the most appropriate one. There are several questionnaires that are designed to measure how to cope with stress, both in general and within the sports context, but none of them have so far been used on a sample of athletes' parents. So the logical next step was to construct and validate new coping questionnaire aimed at parents of the young athletes which has been done in this study. Also, two questionnaires (Stress appraisal measure and Sport emotion questionnaire) has been translated to Croatian, adapted and validated. Lastly, there are no research so far which investigated gender differences in stress appraisal, coping and emotions of parents in sport context. Therefore, this research will contribute in understanding of how these concepts differ according to the gender of parents. At the end it is important to mention that this research is the first research of athlete's parents stressors conducted during and after the Covid-19 pandemic which provide an unique opportunity to investigate the scope of influence that pandemic had on parents in sport. The main limitation of this study is low number of participants and the fact that information about stressors, appraisal, coping and emotion were collected retrospectivelly and not during the stressful event.