A Family Stress-Proximal Process Model for Understanding the Effects of Parental Incarceration on Children and Their Families

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Abstract

A Family Stress-Proximal Process (FSPP) model is advanced for examining the effects of parental incarceration on children, which situates parental incarceration as a stressor that influences psychological and proximal relational processes in the family. Proximal processes encompass person–environment interactions that broadly involve psychological distress and unresolved loss, as well as alterations in parenting and the need for children to spend time directly in prison settings if they visit the incarcerated parent. These processes occur within a context of social inequality that contribute to the difficulties families experience. The ways in which these processes influence child adjustment are examined as well as the implications of an FSPP framework for methodological innovation and intervention aimed at promoting child and family resilience.

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