Can Mindful Parenting Be Observed? Relations Between Observational Ratings of Mother–Youth Interactions and Mothers’ Self-Report of Mindful Parenting

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Abstract

Research on mindful parenting, an extension of mindfulness to the interpersonal domain of parent–child relationships, has been limited by its reliance on self-report assessment. The current study is the first to examine whether observational indices of parent–youth interactions differentiate between high and low levels of self-reported mindful parenting. The Iowa Family Interaction Rating Scales (IFIRS) were used to code interactions between mothers and their 7th grade youth. Mothers drawn from the top and bottom quartiles (n = 375) of a larger distribution of self-reported interpersonal mindfulness in parenting (N = 804) represented clearly defined high- and low-mindful parenting groups. Discriminant function analysis (DFA) was used to analyze how well 6 composite IFIRS observational rating variables (e.g., parental warmth, consistent discipline) discriminated between high and low self-reports of mindful parenting. DFA results were cross-validated, with statistically significant canonical correlations found for both subsamples (p < .05). Subsequent independent samples t tests revealed that group means were significantly different on all 6 IFIRS composite ratings. Confirmation of the relations between self-report mindful parenting and the observational ratings was also provided through hierarchical regression analyses conducted with a continuous predictor of mindful parenting using the full sample. Thus, the present study provides preliminary evidence for a link between self-reported mindful parenting and observed interactions between parents and youth.

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