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Reisz, S., Aviles, A., & Adkins, T. Foster parents’ attachment, trauma histories, and current parenting stress. Infant Mental Health Journal.
Foster Parent Attachment Styles and Trauma Histories: Study Background
Connections between parents’ trauma histories, adult attachment, and parenting stress are well established; those who have experienced trauma are more likely to have higher levels of insecure attachment (Jacobvitz and Reisz, 2019, Jacobvitz and Reisz, 2019) and are more vulnerable to parenting stress (Steele et al., 2016) These processes in foster parents are understudied, even though they care for vulnerable children. This study examined relations between foster parent attachment styles, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and parenting stress. This is important to address because foster parents care for vulnerable children who can present unique stressors to caregivers.
Examine links between ACEs, adult attachment, and parenting stress in foster parents.
Participants & Setting: Participants were 55 foster parents from central Texas, US, recruited from a larger RCT study.
Participants completed the ACEs questionnaire, Experiences in Close Relationships questionnaire, and Parenting Stress Inventory
Foster parents who reported higher total ACEs were more likely to report higher levels of attachment avoidance and higher levels of overall parenting stress. Foster parents who reported experiencing childhood emotional abuse reported higher levels of attachment anxiety. Those who reported experiencing childhood sexual abuse reported higher levels of parental distress. Lastly, those who reported higher levels of attachment anxiety reported higher levels of parental distress and defensive responding.
ACEs are an important factor for foster parents, particularly for parenting stress. It is crucial that appropriate support is provided to help foster parents manage parenting stress and provide optimal care for their foster children.
Reisz, S., Aviles, A., & Adkins, T. (2023). Foster parents’ attachment, trauma histories, and current parenting stress. Children and Youth Services Review. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2023.107005