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Parental imprisonment, and more recently other close family imprisonment, has been associated with long-term harms to children. A number of researchers have proposed that parenting stress caused by family imprisonment could impact on caregivers’ ability to offer a secure parent–child relationship after a close family member is imprisoned. Such relationship problems might then mediate further harms to children. The Family Stress-Proximal Process (FSPP) model conceptualises family imprisonment as an ongoing stressor that influences relational processes in families. Using HILDA, a nationally-representative Australian survey, we test key aspects of this theoretical model for women affected by close family imprisonment. We demonstrate that recent close family imprisonment does indeed significantly increase risks of high maternal parenting stress. Women affected by this high parenting stress are also significantly more likely to report feeling less satisfied with their relationship with their child one year later. Nonetheless, only a third of women experiences high parenting stress after close family imprisonment. And, women who experience close family imprisonment without high parenting stress do not have a greater risk of subsequent relationship dissatisfaction. We conclude that the prevention or reduction of parenting stress in families affected by close family imprisonment could have a protective effect on subsequent mother-child relationships.
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- Family Imprisonment, Maternal Parenting Stress and Its Impact on Mother-Child Relationship Satisfaction
Kirsten L. Besemer
Susan M. Dennison
- Springer US