Bringing Out the Best in Parenting: Translating Community-Engaged Research on Adversity and Parenting to Policy

Online Publication Date: 
September 16, 2021
Publication Status: 

** Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 15.3 September 2021. All rights reserved.**

Background: Although positive parenting protects children against adversity, experiences of adversity can disrupt protective parenting practices. The impact of adversity on the lived experiences of parents living in poverty is lacking attention to specific aspects of the socioecological context.
Objectives: This qualitative research study provides an in-depth exploration of parenting goals, attitudes, and values as well as the mesosystem and chronosystem factors that influence parenting among parents of young children exposed to adversity. The authors also sought to translate research findings into policy initiatives to benefit local families.
Methods: Low-income, primarily Black/African American parents of young children participated in in-depth, semistructured interviews regarding contextual influences on their parenting. Bronfenbrenner’s Social-Ecological Model guided coding and analysis. Our Community Action Board (CAB), which endeavors to prevent toxic stress and promote resilience among children and families impacted by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) aided with research study design, implementation, and interpretation of the findings.
Results: Healthy, supportive parenting goals and values are hampered by challenging interactions with various levels of the socioecological system. Findings highlight the relevance of the mesosystem and chronosystem to parenting in this sample.
Conclusions: Practice implications include strength-based and trauma-informed parenting interventions. In addition, greater awareness of historical discrimination and intergenerational trauma are needed among systems serving urban children and families to build more effective partnerships with families. Policy initiatives informed by the results and our CAB are described.