Supporting Parents and Parenting: An Overview of Data-Based Papers Recently Published in Contemporary Nurse

By Jackson, Debra; Power, Tamara et al. | Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, February 2014 | Go to article overview

Supporting Parents and Parenting: An Overview of Data-Based Papers Recently Published in Contemporary Nurse


Jackson, Debra, Power, Tamara, Dean, Sue, Potgieter, Ingrid, Cleary, Michelle, Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession


Nurses have a crucial role in play in supporting parents and in delivering and referring par- ents to family-support services. In this editorial, we reflect on papers recently published in Contemporary Nurse. We sought to consider data-based papers on parenting published between 2008 and 2012 and elucidate the role/s and potential roles of nurses in enhancing and supporting parenting. Parenting is recognized as a crucial variable for achieving posi- tive outcomes for children (Dawson, Jackson, & Nyamathi, 2012). Poor, inconsistent or abusive par- enting is linked to poor outcomes (Griffin, Botvin, Scheier, Diaz, & Miller, 2000; Holt, Buckley, & Whelan, 2008; Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989), while consistent and effective parenting is associated with enhanced child outcomes (Lamb, 2012; Landry, Smith, Swank, Assel, & Vellet, 2001). In addition to being important to outcomes for children, perceived parenting quality is also important to parents themselves. Disrupted rela- tionships between parents and their children have been identified as distressing and potentially dam- aging to both parties (East, Jackson, & O'Brien, 2006, 2007; Jackson, 2000; Power, 2012).

It is proposed that women position their rela- tionships with others as central to their sense of self and wellbeing (Kayser & Sormanti, 2002). Women evaluating themselves through their capacity to nurture others can have significant consequences for their sense of self if that capac- ity is disrupted. Indeed, women's self-esteem can be intrinsically linked to how well they feel they fulfill the mothering role (Forssén & Carlstedt, 2008; Jackson, 2000; Jackson & Mannix, 2003). However, the actual experience of mothering can be vastly different to the prescribed ideal, and this can lead to women feeling that they do not meet the standards required for good parenting (Andrews, 2002; Liamputtong, 2006; Malacrida, 2009). This lack of fit between the ideal and real- ity has been attributed to causing women guilt and shame, stress, fatigue and mental and physical ill- nesses (Rizzo, Schiffrin, & Liss, 2012; Sutherland, 2010). Similarly for fathers, illness can disrupt their self-esteem connected to the fathering role, and their ability to parent their children. However, there may be gender specific considerations as men are more prone to view the disruption in terms of how it effects their ability to provide for their family (O'Neill, McCaughan, Semple, & Ryan, 2013). Disruption to parenting for men can also occur during marriage break-down (Mandel & Sharlin, 2006), or be associated with other factors such as substance abuse and depression (Bronte- Tinkew, Moore, Mathews, & Carrano, 2007).

Thirteen data-based papers with a focus on parenting were published in Contemporary Nurse between 2008 and 2012. Studies were from Australia (N = 8), Canada (N = 2), Hong Kong (N = 1), New Zealand (N = 1), and one was a review by Australian authors of 11 evalu- ation-based studies of parenting (mostly from the US and UK). The majority of studies were qualitative, drawing on either individual or group interview-based (N = 9) or reported responses from surveys or structured interviews (N = 3). Sample size varied from 4-111, and the larger sample size (>100) involved thematic content analysis of qualitative questionnaire responses. In some cases, findings reported were part of larger studies (see for example Power, Jackson, Weaver, & Carter, 2011; Halle, et al., 2008). Regarding the aims of the papers, most involved engag- ing, and supporting parents or parenting pro- grams (N = 10), or were specific to challenges to parenting (e.g., medically diagnosed severe food allergies, rural settings or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) (N = 3).

From new families through families dealing with ill children and ones with emergent men- tal health problems to families within marginal- ized communities, the challenges families face are as numerous as they are diverse. …

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