Entropy Rules

Indicators Of Wellbeing:

Parenting Mindfulness Attachment Injury

    A small body of research has found that mindful parenting relates to attachment in predictable ways. Medeiros, Gouveia, Canavarro, and Moreira (2016) provided some preliminary evidence on how mindful parenting may influence child (ages 8-19) well-being and attachment security. Mindful parenting was associated with enhanced child self-perceived wellbeing. Child self-reported subjective attachment security with both parents mediated this association. These findings were consistent regardless of the age of child or adolescent. The generalizability of the results is restricted by reliance on self-report, and also because families with children with psychological disorders and single-parent households (i.e., households where maltreatment is more likely) were excluded from the study (Medeiros et al., 2016).
    Moreira and Canavarro (2015) found a link between avoidant parental mindset with respect to attachment and mindful parenting. Both anxious and avoidant parental mindset with respect to attachment was associated with egotistical motives for providing help and a weaker endorsement of others as "worthy of help". Regarding others as worthy of help in turn was associated with mindful parenting. Avoidant parental mindset with respect to attachment also related to self-perceived decreased ability to recognize needs and provide help. The ability to recognize needs and provide help are aspects of mindful parenting. Two main variables emerged as influential in predicting mindful parenting: attachment insecurity and cognitive representations of caregiving (i.e., working models of (1) self as caregiver who is perceptive of needs and competent in responding to those needs; (2) representation of the other as a being with a variety of needs and worthy of care; Moreira & Canavarro, 2015).
    Mikl—si, Szab—, and Simon (2016) investigated how maladaptive cognitive schemata and mindfulness contribute to self-perceptions of parental competence in a community sample of parents with young children. Parents' recollections about experiences in their childhoods where their attachment needs were not met were significantly predictive of maladaptive schemata featuring themes related to attachment insecurity (e.g., abandonment, shame, social isolation). In turn, these schemata predicted self-perceived parental competence even after controlling for the child's psychosocial issues, parenting experience, and parental education. The authors tested trait mindfulness as both a moderator and mediator in the association between maladaptive schemata and competence. The moderation model was not significant; rather trait mindfulness was shown to mediate the association. The authors suggest that a moderation model may be valid when working with clinical populations using mindfulness training, where as a meditational model appears to best explain the dynamics present in the same associations in nonclinical samples (Mikl—si, Szab—, & Simon, 2016).
    Other work has examined how parental mindfulness and mindful parenting impact the quality of co-parenting relationships and parenting behaviors. Parent and colleagues (2016a) investigated this through the lens of the "spillover hypothesis" (Erel & Burman, 1995). "Spillover" is a concept from family systems theory stating that multidirectional influences are present in family systems because the functioning of one subsystem (e.g., parental mental health) can impact the functioning of another system (e.g., parent-child attachment). They studied spillover effects in a large community sample of parents with children between the ages of 3 and 17. They found support for their proposed model wherein parental dispositional mindfulness was related to parenting and coparenting relationship quality as well as parenting practices through greater levels of mindful parenting and mindful coparenting. Parent dispositional mindfulness was directly related to less negative but not more positive parenting practices. However, higher parental mindfulness indirectly related to more positive parenting practices through higher levels of mindful parenting. Mindful parenting also mediated the positive association between parent mindfulness and positive parenting. Parent mindfulness was indirectly linked to the relationship quality with a coparent through mindful coparenting. Several links in the proposed model were not significant, including a lack of spillover effects from mindful parenting to quality of relationship with the coparent and mindful coparenting to parenting quality (Parent et al., 2016a).

⇲ About The Author

Robin Hertz, MA is currently in the process of completing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Oregon.