Adverse childhood experiences, poverty, and parenting stress

Howard Steele, Jordan Bate, Miriam Steele, Kerri Danskin, Hannah Knafo, Adella Nikitiades, Shanta Rishi Dube, Karen Bonuck, Paul Meissner, Anne Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with physical and mental health problems in adulthood, as well as unresolved or discordant states of mind regarding attachments that have implications for problematic parenting. Currently, there are no studies on the association between ACEs and adults' subjective experiences of stress in the parenting role, where socioeconomic status (SES) - related poverty effects have been controlled for-the central question behind the current study. We examined exposure to ACEs among 118 mothers (n = 33 low SES/impoverished and n = 85 middle/high SES) and parenting distress. Participants completed an ACE questionnaire that assessed exposure to 10 adverse experiences from childhood (e.g., abuse, neglect, household dysfunction), and the Parenting Stress Index-Short Form. Parenting distress and ACEs were significantly higher in the low SES group; yet, even after controlling for SES, higher ACE scores added significant explained variance in parental distress in a linear regression model. Discussion focuses on the need to administer ACE screening in prenatal and pediatric settings to identify and to offer trauma-and attachment-informed treatment, so to reduce the intergenerational transmission of risk associated with problematic parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-38
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Behavioural Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACE)
  • Child maltreatment
  • Parenting stress
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Adverse childhood experiences, poverty, and parenting stress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this