Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) in homeless parents: A validation and replication study

Jillian S. Merrick, Angela J. Narayan, Carrie E. DePasquale, Ann S. Masten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study extends the validity and replicability of the Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) scale, a novel instrument for adults with childhood adversity. The BCEs scale assesses 10 favorable childhood experiences, yielding a total score similar to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017; Felitti et al., 1998). The current study examined the BCEs scale in a sample of homeless parents and hypothesized that higher levels of total BCEs would predict lower odds of psychological distress, sociodemographic risk, and parenting stress after accounting for ACEs. Participants were 50 ethnically diverse parents (42 birth mothers, 5 birth fathers, 1 stepfather, and 2 grandmothers in the primary caregiver role; M = 32.50 years, SD = 9.29, range = 21-62 years; 66% African American, 12% White, 12% American Indian, 10% biracial/other) residing at a homeless shelter with their children. Parents completed the BCEs and ACEs scales and instruments on psychological distress, sociodemographic risk, and parenting stress. Higher levels of BCEs predicted lower odds of psychological distress, as expected. Higher levels of ACEs predicted higher sociodemographic risk. However, neither BCEs nor ACEs predicted parenting stress. Mean levels of total BCEs and item frequencies were strikingly similar to the pilot sample, although homeless parents reported significantly lower predictable home routines in childhood. BCEs and ACEs were only modestly negatively associated, underscoring the independence of adverse and positive early experiences. The BCEs scale is a promising, brief and culturally sensitive index of childhood experiences linked to long-term resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-498
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the University of Minnesota through the Institute of Child Development small grants program for graduate students and funds from the Irving B. Harris and Regents Professorships (Ann S. Masten). The authors also express their deep appreciation to participating families and shelter staff where data were collected.


  • Childhood adversity
  • Homelessness
  • Parenting stress
  • Psychological distress
  • Resilience
  • Parents/psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Intergenerational Relations
  • Parenting/psychology
  • Young Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences/statistics & numerical data
  • Homeless Persons/psychology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Child

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Validation Study


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