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We evaluated the efficacy of a mindful parenting program for changing parents’ mindfulness, child management practices, and relationships with their early adolescent youth and tested whether changes in parents’ mindfulness mediated changes in other domains. We conducted a pilot randomized trial with 65 families and tested an adapted version of the Strengthening Families Program: For Parent and Youth 10–14 that infused mindfulness principles and practices against the original program and a delayed intervention control group. Results of pre-post analyses of mother and youth-report data showed that the mindful parenting program generally demonstrated comparable effects to the original program on measures of child management practices and stronger effects on measures of mindful parenting and parent–youth relationship qualities. Moreover, mediation analyses indicated that the mindful parenting program operated indirectly on the quality of parent–youth relationships through changes in mindful parenting. Overall, the findings suggest that infusing mindful parenting activities into existing empirically validated parenting programs can enhance their effects on family risk and protection during the transition to adolescence.
We present the conceptual and empirical foundation and curriculum content of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) program and the results of a pilot study of n = 27 pregnant women participating in MBCP during their third trimester of pregnancy. MBCP is a formal adaptation of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program and was developed and refined over the course of 11 years of clinical practice with 59 groups of expectant couples. MBCP is designed to promote family health and well-being through the practice of mindfulness during pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting. Quantitative results from the current study include statistically significant increases in mindfulness and positive affect, and decreases in pregnancy anxiety, depression, and negative affect from pre- to post-test (p < .05). Effect sizes for changes in key hypothesized intervention mediators were large (d > .70), suggesting that MBCP is achieving its intended effects on maternal well-being during pregnancy. Qualitative reports from participants expand upon the quantitative findings, with the majority of participants reporting perceived benefits of using mindfulness practices during the perinatal period and early parenting. Our future research will involve conducting a randomized controlled trial of MBCP to test effects on psychophysiological stress mechanisms and to examine effects on birth outcomes, family relationship quality, and child development outcomes.
This paper introduces a model of “mindful parenting” as a framework whereby parents intentionally bring moment-to-moment awareness to the parent–child relationship. This is done by developing the qualities of listening with full attention when interacting with their children, cultivating emotional awareness and self-regulation in parenting, and bringing compassion and nonjudgmental acceptance to their parenting interactions. First, we briefly outline the theoretical and empirical literature on mindfulness and mindfulness-based interventions. Next, we present an operational definition of mindful parenting as an extension of mindfulness to the social context of parent–child relationships. We discuss the implications of mindful parenting for the quality of parent–child relationships, particularly across the transition to adolescence, and we review the literature on the application of mindfulness in parenting interventions. We close with a synopsis of our own efforts to integrate mindfulness-based intervention techniques and mindful parenting into a well-established, evidence-based family prevention program and our recommendations for future research on mindful parenting interventions.