Parents’ adverse childhood experiences and current relationships with their young children: the role of executive function

Shannon S. Guss, Amanda S. Morris, Cara Bosler, Sherri L. Castle, Jennifer Hays-Grudo, Diane M. Horm, Amy Treat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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This study explored whether parents’ ability to regulate their behaviour and attention, assessed as components of everyday executive function (EF), was influenced by their past adverse experiences–such as abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction–and in turn, influenced current relationships with their children. The sample included 73 parent–child dyads from children enrolled in three Midwestern early childhood centres serving low-income children and families. Parents reported on their adverse childhood experiences, EF, and rated their relationship with their child. Findings indicate that more parental adverse childhood experiences were associated with higher ratings of parent–child conflict. This association was indirectly linked through parents’ EF. Interventions aimed at parent–child relationships can benefit from addressing parents’ past experiences and associated influences on parents’ EF.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018



  • Parent–child relationship
  • adverse childhood experiences
  • childhood adversity
  • executive function

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