Towards a more comprehensive understanding of PTSD and parenting

The impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on parenting and the parent-child relationship has been well-documented in the scientific literature. However, some conceptual and methodological challenges within this research field remain.


We reflect on a number of challenges that we identified while examining the literature in preparation of an individual participant data meta-analysis on the relationships between PTSD and parenting.


We address 1) the presence of ‘trauma-islands’; 2) the need for transdiagnostic theoretical frameworks for mechanisms between PTSD and parenting; 3) the lack of developmental perspectives; 4) the overuse of self-reported retrospective measures; 5) the need to study more diverse samples and cultural contexts; and 6) the lack of research on resilience and post-traumatic growth in parenting. Based on these reflections, we offer suggestions on strategies for responding to these challenges through: 1) welcoming open science; 2) working towards shared theoretical frameworks; 3) doing more longitudinal research 4) expanding the methodological palette; 5) centering lived experience; and 6) taking systemic inequality into account.


With this commentary, we aim to open a discussion on next steps towards a more comprehensive understanding of the association between PTSD and parenting, and inspire collaborative research.

Laurien Meijer, Molly R. Franz, Maja Deković, Elisa van Ee, Catrin Finkenauer, Rolf J. Kleber, Elise M. van de Putte, Kathleen Thomaes | 2023
In: Comprehensive Psychiatry ; ISSN: 0010-440X | 127 | november | 152423
Attachment Behavior, Childhood Development, Children, Commentary, Communication, Developmental Psychology, Emotional Regulation, Emotional States, Family Therapy, Instruments, Letter, Life Experiences, Methodology, Parenting Behavior, Parents, Partners, Posttraumatic growth, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Quality of Life, Resilience
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