In Search of an Evidence-Based Approach to Understand and Promote Effective Parenting Practices

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Abstract

Demographic trends indicate there is no longer 1 “dominant family” in the 21st century (Pew Research Center, 2015). Rather, the contemporary family constellation is hugely diverse and dynamic. Ongoing shifts in family life make it imperative that couple and family psychologists stay current through awareness of evidence-based parenting interventions that are applicable to clinical work. Similarly, rapid shifts in family life implore researchers to empirically examine family experiences. This article seeks to provide a cohesive approach to understanding the status of research with regard to evidence-based parenting interventions. The terms effective parenting, parenting interventions/programs, and evidence-based interventions are reviewed. The work of Sexton et al. (2011) is presented as a scaffolding tool to evaluate empirical research by looking at strength of outcome, cross-cultural application, and indication of change processes. A framework that incorporates effective parenting, parenting interventions/programs, and evidence-based practice is applied to an understanding of parenting research with a focus on the following questions: (a) What do meta-analyses suggest about effective parenting practices? (b) What do meta-analyses suggest about effective parenting interventions/programs? Implications of responses to these 2 questions is then considered in the context of a third question: (c) What implications does this knowledge have for the implementation of parenting programs in diverse community contexts? The author presents the parenting research partnership as a culturally centered, community-based participatory research model for evidence-based parenting intervention studies.

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