Exploring the Perceived Impact of Parental PTSD on Parents and Parenting Behaviours—A Qualitative Study

Hope Christie, Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Rosie McGuire, Jon I. Bisson, Neil P. Roberts, Jack F.G. Underwood, Sarah L. Halligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


A considerable number of adults who are currently living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also parents caring for at least one biological child. Evidence suggests that parental PTSD can be associated with impairments to certain parenting behaviours, particularly increasing the use of more negative practices. However, most of the evidence to date has been collected using quantitative methodology, which gives limited insight into why such effects might occur. The current study qualitatively explored study the lived experiences of parents currently living with PTSD, within the United Kingdom. Interviews were conducted with 30 parents (16 mothers, 14 fathers) who were recruited via a PTSD research registry, and who had children living at home under the age of 18 years at the time they experienced their trauma. Three main themes were identified: key impacts of the trauma to the parent personally; negative changes to specific parenting outcomes; impact of these parenting changes on the parent’s sense of parental efficacy; and recovery and coping. These findings provide novel insight into the experiences of both mothers and fathers with PTSD, and highlight the multiple challenges faced by parents living with PTSD that extend beyond impairments to themselves as individuals. Potential implications for the implementation of effective support for parents and their families following trauma exposure are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3378-3388
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number11
Early online date8 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was carried out as part of HC’s PhD Studentship that was fully funded by the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC).

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, upon reasonable request. The data are not publicly available due to the sensitive content of the interviews and information that may compromise the privacy of research participants.


  • Family
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Parenting
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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