A Qualitative Metasynthesis of Mothers’ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Parenting Practices

Kayla Herbell, Tina Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Despite the known prevalence and detrimental health outcomes associated with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), extant literature has rarely focused on the impact of ACEs on mothers’ parenting practices. The purpose of this metasynthesis was to synthesize qualitative studies to understand how mothers with a history of ACEs parent their children. Method: A systematic search was conducted across five databases with 11 studies meeting eligibilty criteria. Relevant data were extracted and analyzed with qualitative description. Results: Six subthemes and three themes emerged from the data. Themes included breaking the cycle, parent and child well-being, and supporting mothers. All mothers described strategies to protect their children, with some describing hypervigilant parenting practices. Mothers discussed worries about appropriate discipline and a pervasive fear of community-based services for fear of removal of the child. Across studies, mothers described their current support system and offered several suggestions for formal support services. Discussion: This metasynthesis provides the synthesized perspectives of traumatized mothers’ parenting practices, which may inform future interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • adult survivors
  • parenting
  • psychological trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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