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Mindfulness, parenting behavior, and children's mental health: An investigation among diverse, low-income mothers of preschool aged children (Pages 79-86)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 24, April 2022, Pages 79-86


Carlos E. Rivera, Lisa W. Coyne, Katrina M. Daigle, Andrew Guzick, Adam Reid, Sarah Shea


Mindfulness is a multifaceted construct, encompassing the ability to observe, describe, accept without judgment, and act with awareness, which has been shown to have a meaningful impact on parenting. The present study evaluated the relationship between discrete facets of mindfulness, mothers' parenting behaviors, and their children's mental health via a mediation model linking parental mindfulness to their children's psychological functioning through adaptive parenting behaviors. Low-income, racially and ethnically diverse mothers (N = 137) of preschool aged children (3-6 years-old) were recruited from programs for diverse, low-income families around an urban northeastern USA area. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing mindfulness, parenting behaviors, and their children's psychological functioning. Results revealed that punitive parenting mediated the relationship between lower parental mindfulness and greater child externalizing problems. Parenting behaviors were not found to mediate the relationship between mindfulness and internalizing symptoms. Regarding facets of mindfulness, mothers' ability to describe was associated with fewer internalizing symptoms, their capacity to observe was associated with less inconsistent parenting behaviors, and their tendency to act with awareness was associated with less punitive parenting. Mothers' ability to accept without judgment was the most consistent predictor of child functioning and parenting behavior, as lower acceptance among mothers was found to significantly predict more inconsistent and punitive parenting behaviors, as well as more child externalizing and internalizing symptoms. These results support the importance of mindfulness in parenting behaviors and child psychosocial functioning in a diverse sample of low-income mothers, and highlight acceptance without judgment as a particularly meaningful target for future mindfulness-based parenting interventions.

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