Parenting in the breach: How parents help children cope with developmentally challenging circumstances

Robert A. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This article advocates for a new focus in the area parenting science; namely, how parents help their children cope with and recover from events and conditions that threaten serious disruption to normal, healthy development. These events and conditions, organized under the rubric of developmentally challenging circumstances (DCCs), include events such as war, natural disasters, parental suicide and sexual abuse, serious personal loss that may come with the death of a family member, highly destabilizing interpersonal circumstances such as can occur when family members have serious mental health and substance abuse problems or when children witness interparental violence, and highly destabilizing social or physical circumstances, which can occur as a result of divorce, homelessness, or parental incarceration. These circumstances are at the upper end of conditions that cause stress; they are of a kind that create high levels of emotional distress and threaten long-term maladaptive reorganization of personality. The article offers a broad framework, organized around the major tasks of parenting, for systematic and integrative inquiry on what parents do to assist their children in managing DCCs and moving toward recovery. It also argues for research on the effects of these efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-148
Number of pages50
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Parenting in the breach: How parents help children cope with developmentally challenging circumstances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this