Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


To possess a calling is to have a strongly held belief that one is destined to fulfil a specific life role, regardless of sacrifice, with an attitude that in so doing, his or her effort will make a meaningful contribution to the greater good. This dissertation investigates calling in childrearing, a previously unexplored domain of calling. In a series of four studies utilising qualitative and quantitative methods, the applicability and the function of calling in childrearing was explored. Study One utilised interpretative phenomenological analysis to investigate the relevance of calling in the parental domain, and explored the experience of this calling through qualitative semi-structured interviews with 11 mothers and fathers. Each parent’s definitions and experiences of calling were consistent with conception and experience of calling in previous research. Study Two reports on the development of a scale designed to measure parents’ subjective sense of calling in the childrearing role. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, two studies revealed a three-factor, eleven item scale that measured calling in childrearing. Parental subjective sense of calling in childrearing was positively associated with authoritative parenting style, importance of parenting, pleasure of parenting, parenting satisfaction, presence of meaning in life, satisfaction with life, savouring, and positive affect. The calling scale showed a negative relationship with age, income, and the sense that parenting is a burden. This study indicated that calling in childrearing is similar to calling in a career context, and appears related to optimal outcomes for those who possess it. Study Three extended that research by considering how parental sense of calling related to wellbeing in their teenage children. Thirty four early adolescents and their parents completed a suite of questionnaires. The wellbeing and engaged living of adolescents were positively related to parent’s calling, over and above any effects of parent’s satisfaction with life or parenting style. Study Four used a model of job crafting that has been shown to increase calling, in a pilot study, attempting to develop a sense of calling in 142 parents. Participants completed a suite of questionnaires, and carried out one activity each week for two weeks with their children. They then completed the questionnaires a second time. No significant main effects of time or group were obtained in the data, although a significant group by time interaction was obtained. Implications for calling development and future research were discussed. Calling appears to be a salient and useful construct in childrearing, demonstrates consistency in function across domains, and is related to optimal child wellbeing.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.