Parenting Practices in the Karen Refugee Community

Jaime Ballard, Elizabeth Wieling, Lekie Dwanyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Parents and children exposed to war and relocation have high rates of negative relational and mental health outcomes. The Karen are an ethnic minority from Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, recently resettled in the United States. Karen refugee parents have been significantly strained by both war-related trauma and resettlement stress. We conducted three focus groups with Karen caregivers (N = 12, 5, and 12) to assess parenting practices in the Karen refugee community. Standardized mental health and parenting assessments completed by 11 Karen caregivers and 11 children were used to triangulate focus group data. Key themes identified related to mothers’ physical care for their children, parenting difficulties after relocation to the U.S., and practices of discipline, direction-giving, and encouragement. These findings have implications for culturally relevant clinical and research approaches to support Karen refugee parents and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge and thank Marion Forgatch and the team at Implementation Sciences International, Inc. for their ongoing support and mentorship related to GenerationPMTO dissemination and implementation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Parenting practices
  • Refugees
  • Resettlement
  • Trauma


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