Do less mindful mothers show better parenting via improvements in trait mindfulness following a military parent training program?

Na Zhang, Jingchen Zhang, Abigail H. Gewirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Parental deployment to war poses risks to children's healthy adjustment. The After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT) program was developed for post-deployed military families to promote children's wellbeing through improving effective parenting. ADAPT combines behavior management with emotion socialization skills for parents, using brief mindfulness practices to strengthen emotion regulation. We used a three-wave longitudinal, experimental design to examine whether ADAPT improved parental trait mindfulness (PTM), and whether the effect was moderated by baseline PTM. We also investigated whether improved PTM was associated with behavioral, cognitive, and emotional aspects of parenting such as self-reported parental locus of control (PLOC), self-reported parental emotion socialization (PES), self-reported and observed behavioral parenting skills. We analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial of the ADAPT, with a focus on mothers (n = 313) who were either deployed (17.9%) or non-deployed and partnered with a husband who had been recently deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan and returned (82.1%). Families identified a 4-13-year-old target child (Mean age = 8.34, SD = 2.48; 54.3% girls) and were randomized into ADAPT (a group-based 14-week program) or a control condition (services as usual). At baseline, 1-year, and 2-year follow-up, PTM, PLOC, PES, and parenting skills were self-reported, whereas home-based family interactions involving parents and the child were video-taped and assessed for observed behavioral parenting skills such as discipline and problem-solving using a theory-based coding system. Results showed that mothers with lower baseline PTM reported higher PTM at 1-year while mothers with higher baseline PTM reported lower PTM at 1-year. PTM at 1-year was associated with improved self-reported parenting skills and supportive PES at 2-year, as well as indirectly associated with improved PLOC and reduced nonsupportive PES at 2-year through PTM at 2-year. No associations between PTM and observed parenting skills were detected. We discuss the implications of these findings for incorporating mindfulness practices into behavioral parenting interventions and for personalized prevention considering parents' pre-existing levels of trait mindfulness as a predictor of intervention responsivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number909
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Zhang, Zhang and Gewirtz.


  • Behavioral Parent Training
  • Emotion socialization
  • Moderated mediation
  • Parenting intervention
  • Personalized prevention


Dive into the research topics of 'Do less mindful mothers show better parenting via improvements in trait mindfulness following a military parent training program?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this