Stress, Mindful Parenting, and the Transition to Adulthood

  • Jeanne Joseph Chadwick


In our time, families are often wound up in social, professional, and occupational pursuits that inhibit the potential for establishing secure emotional bonds (Elkind 1994; Brazelton and Greenspan 2000; and Gottman 1997). This inhibition is serious under any circumstances, but it becomes even more conspicuous and damaging at moments when members of a family face new challenges and developmental transitions (Elkind 1994; Wallerstein 2003). These transitions are prompted by a variety of stressful life events that tend to arise at different points in the family life cycle. For parents, these events may include divorce, remarriage, loss of job, relocation of job, or care-giving responsibilities for aging parents. For children, these events are often associated with developmental challenges that give rise to a new set of emotional needs. During such transitions, a nurturing social environment that the child experiences as occurring for his/her sake is the optimal context for healthy development (Elkind 1994, 2008; Garbarino 1992; and Devereux et al. 1969).

While this idea may be intuitive to parents and researchers, the kind of environment that supports families in the midst of life changes has, thus far, been difficult to articulate. The parenting literature prescribes several different approaches, including early attachment to caregivers, acceptance of children’s temperamental differences, spending quality time with children or increasing parental supervision, and making available social support networks such as effective childcare outside of the family (Bowlby 1988; Karen 1994; Lerner and Lerner 1987; Rosenfeld and Wise 2001). Much of the parenting literature also cautions, however, that parenting behaviors alone are not enough. Some even suggest that regardless of the child’s age, even if parents were to do all that is prescribed, under the duress of stressful life events, there is no guarantee that children would appreciate these behaviors as having occurred for their sake (Garbarino 1992; Bronfenbrenner 1979).


Stressful Life Event Developmental Transition Mindful Parenting Family Life Cycle Parenting Literature 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne Joseph Chadwick
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutConnecticutUSA

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