Advertisement

“It Makes Me Step Back a Little…Check Myself”: Parental Identity and Mandated Participation among Parents Involved with the Child Welfare System

  • Sarah N. WolfordEmail author
  • Lenore M. McWey
Original Article

Abstract

The child welfare system (CWS) is designed to protect children from maltreatment. One avenue through which the CWS aims to do so is by mandating participation in parenting interventions. There are notable challenges associated with mandated services, however, and participant drop out is a key concern. Researchers have examined factors associated with retention, and participants’ beliefs about parenting and their parental identity may be linked with intervention engagement. Although theory and research on parental identity is growing, little of this work is specific to parents involved with the CWS. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine parental identity in the context of CWS involvement and mandated services. The study involved analysis of existing qualitative data collected through interviews with 35 parents who participated in a parenting intervention. Interviews were analyzed using a thematic approach guided by open, axial and selective coding principles. Findings identified that parental identity is influenced by CWS and mandated intervention participation through three main themes: (1) Loss of Parental Control Over Parent-Child Interactions, (2) Internal Shifts in Parental Beliefs and Emotions, and parental reflections on the (3) Transmission of Core Values. Each theme represented experiences of identity disruption alongside positive shifts in parental identity, such as enhanced beliefs about self and parental responsibilities. Further, parents described re-evaluating themselves in their role and expressed shifts in thought patterns and perceptions. Results challenge professionals to consider the CWS context as integral to parental identity and encourage researchers to examine parental identity as a mechanism of change.

Keywords

Child welfare system Parental beliefs Parental identity Parenting intervention Social information processing 

Notes

References

  1. Azar, S. T., Reitz, E. B., & Goslin, M. C. (2008). Mothering: Thinking is part of the job description: Application of cognitive views to understanding maladaptive parenting and doing intervention and prevention work. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 295–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Axford, N., Lehtonen, M., Kaoukji, D., Tobin, K., & Berry, V. (2012). Engaging parents in parenting programs: Lessons from research and practice. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2061–2071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barlow, J., Coren, E., & Stewart-Brown, S. (2003). Parent-training programmes for improving maternal psychosocial health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4.Google Scholar
  4. Barlow, J., Smailagic, N., Huband, N., Roloff, V., & Bennett, C. (2014). Group-based parent training programmes for improving parental psychosocial health. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Google Scholar
  5. Barth, R. P., Landsverk, J., Chamberlain, P., Reid, J., Rolls, J., & Hurlburt, M.…Kohl, P. L. (2005). Parent-training programs in child welfare services: Planning for a more evidence-based approach to serving biological parents. Research on Social Work Practice, 15, 353–371.Google Scholar
  6. Bogenschneider, K. (2014). Family policy matters: How policymaking affects families and what professionals can do (3rd ed.). Florence, KY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brock, R., & Kochanska, G. (2016). Toward a developmentally informed approach to parenting interventions: Seeking hidden effects. Development and Psychopathology, 28, 583–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Thousand Oaks. Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among the five traditions. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Dumbrill, C. G. (2006). Parental experience of child protection intervention: A qualitative study. Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, 30, 27–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fadjukoff, P., Pulkkinen, L., Lyyra, A., & Kokko, K. (2016). Parental identity and its relation to parenting and psychological functioning in middle age. Parenting: Science and Practice, 16, 87–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Florida Department of Children and Families. (2019). Child Welfare Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.myflfamilies.com/
  14. Fusch, P. I., & Ness, L. R. (2015). Are we there yet? Data saturation in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 20, 1408–1416 Retrieved from: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol20/iss9/3.Google Scholar
  15. Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods, 18, 59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holden, G. W., & Zambarano, R. J. (1992). Passing the rod: Similarities between parents and their young children in orientations toward physical punishment. In I.E. Sigel, a.V. McGillicuddy-DeLisi & J. J. Goodnow (2nd Eds.), Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children, (pp. 143-172).Google Scholar
  17. Hughes, J., Chau, S., & Vokrri, L. (2016). Mothers’ narratives of their involvement with child welfare services. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 31, 344–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jackson, P. A. (2000). Maternal self-efficacy and children’s influence on stress and parenting among single black mothers in poverty. Journal of Family Issues, 21, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnson, S. D. (2015). Substance abuse and parenting among African American mothers and their adolescents. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 32, 455–463.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kemp, P. S., Marcenko, O. M., Hoagwood, K., & Vesneski, W. (2009). Engaging parents in child welfare services: Bridging family needs and child welfare mandates. Child Welfare: Journal of Policy, Practice, and Program, 88, 101–126.Google Scholar
  21. Kemp, P. S., Marcenko, O. M., Lyons, J. S., & Kruzich, M. J. (2014). Strength-based practice and parental engagement in child welfare services: An empirical examination. Children and Youth Services Review, 47, 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kroger, J., & Marcia, J. E. (2011). The identity statuses: Origins, meanings, and interpretations. In S. J. Schwartz, K. Luyckx, & V. L. Vignoles (Eds.), Handbook of identity theory and research (pp. 31–53). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marcia, J. E. (2002). Identity and psychosocial development in adulthood. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 2, 7–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McWey, L. M., Holtrop, K., Stevenson Wojciak, A., & Claridge, A. (2015). Retention in a parent training intervention among parents involved with the child welfare system. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1073–1087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. MAXQDA, software for qualitative data analysis, 1989-2018, VERBI software – Consult Sozialforschung GmbH, Berlin, Germany.Google Scholar
  26. Nock, M. K., & Kazdin, A. E. (2005). Parent expectancies for child therapy: Assessment and relation to participation in treatment. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 10, 155–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Patterson, J., Mockford, C., & Stewart-Brown, S. (2005). Parents’ perceptions of the value of the Webster-Stratton parenting programme: A qualitative study of a general practice based initiative. Child: Care, Health, & Development, 31, 53–64.Google Scholar
  28. Raskin, P. M. (2002). Identity in adulthood: Reflections on recent theory and research. An International Journal of Theory and Research, 2, 101–108.Google Scholar
  29. Rodriguez, C. M., & Richardson, M. J. (2007). Stress and anger as contextual factors and preexisting cognitive schemas: Predicting parental child maltreatment risk. Child Maltreatment, 12, 325–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sanders, R., & Woolley, L. (2005). The relationship between maternal self-efficacy and parenting practices: Implications for parent training. Child: Care, Health & Development, 31, 65–73.Google Scholar
  31. Sandler, I. N., Schoenfelder, E. N., Wolchik, S. A., & MacKinnon, D. P. (2011). Long-term impact of prevention programs to promote effective parenting: Lasting effects but uncertain processes. The Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 299–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sigel, I. E., McGillicuddy-DeLisi, A. V., & Goodnow, J. J. (1992). Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  33. Simon, W. R. (1992). Parental role strains, salience of parental identity and gender differences in psychological distress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 33, 25–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Vlahovicova, K., Melendez-Torres, J. G., Leijten, P., Knerr, W., & Gardner, F. (2017). Parenting programs for the prevention of child physical abuse recurrence: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Child & Family Psychological Review, 20, 351–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Webster-Stratton, C., & Reid, M. J. (2010). Adapting the incredible years, an evidence-based parenting programme, for families involved in the child welfare system. Journal of Children's Services, 5, 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Division of Applied SciencesPfeiffer University (Charlotte)CharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family and Child Sciences, College of Human SciencesFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations