Raising Children in Conflict: An Integrative Model of Parenting in War

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Abstract

Children living in conflict-affected settings often face cognitive, physical, and social-emotional challenges that not only impact how they learn, grow, and interact with others, but also impact the wellbeing of future generations. While parents and caregivers can serve a critical role in mitigating the negative effects of crisis and conflict by providing nurturing and responsive care, their ability to do so is affected by complex socioecological factors associated with the conditions of war. Parenting programs, which have demonstrated effectiveness in high-income and stable contexts, offer a promising approach to improving caregiving practices that promote children’s resilience in the context of war. Nonetheless, little evidence exists to inform the implementation of parenting programs in humanitarian contexts. To address this evidence gap, this article presents an analysis of the socioecological factors that influence parenting behaviors and describes a conceptual framework for understanding the predictors of parenting in war to guide intervention design and research. This article reviews existing evidence of parenting programs in low- and middle-income countries and finds indications of effective models for improving parenting behaviors and child development, albeit with wide variation in the program curricula, structure, and delivery method. Finally, this article underscores the need for program models that specifically address the complex factors influencing parenting in times of war and provides recommendations for further research and practice.

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