Promoting Resilience: Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences.

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DOI: 10.1177/1090198117752785


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including trauma exposure, parent mental health problems, and family dysfunction, put children at risk for disrupted brain development and increased risk for later health problems and mortality. These negative effects may be prevented by resilience promoting environments that include protective caregiving relationships. We sought to understand (1) parents' experiences of ACEs, (2) the perceived impact on parenting, (3) protective factors that buffer ACEs potential negative impact, and (4) supports and services that can reduce the number and severity of ACEs and promote resilience among children exposed to early adversity. We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 11 low-income, urban parents of young children who had experienced ACEs. Interviews were analyzed for emergent themes and shared with parents from the community to ensure relevance and proper interpretation. Themes from these interviews describe the potential intergenerational cycle of ACEs and key factors that can break that cycle, including parent aspirations to make children's lives better and parent nurturance and support. Parents' suggestions for intervention are also presented. Our findings illuminate protective factors and family strengths that are important to build upon when developing and implementing interventions to promote resilience among parents and children exposed to early adversity. This study benefits from highly ecologically valid data obtained from low-socioeconomic status, racial/ethnic minority parents through one-on-one in-depth interviews and interpreted with the aid of community stakeholders through a community-based participatory research approach.

Journal Title

Health education & behavior : the official publication of the Society for Public Health Education





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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Adverse Childhood Experiences; Female; Humans; Intergenerational Relations; Interviews as Topic; Male; Parenting; Poverty; Protective Factors; Qualitative Research; Resilience, Psychological; Social Support


adverse childhood experiences; qualitative research; resilience; trauma

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