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Parental perspectives: Risk and protective factors associated with parenting quality for parents of adolescents in secure residential care

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Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


Although parental problems and poor parenting are commonly associated with adolescents' admission to secure residential care, few studies examined these parental characteristics. This study aims to identify parental problems and strengths and their association with parenting styles for 64 of these parents. We assessed perspectives of both adolescents and their parent figures shortly after admission. Parents often report high levels of psychopathology for both mothers and fathers, respectively, including depression (54.7% and 39.1%), anxiety (29.7% and 12.5%), substance dependence (14.1% and 26.6%), antisocial behaviour (1.6% and 21.1%), and psychosis (11.0% and 9.4%). Parents also report high parenting stress specifically related to the behaviour of their child. In contrast to our expectations, most parents experience a high quality of life. Living in a 1‐parent family, being unemployed and having debts are most frequently mentioned risk factor combinations. We found limited support for the hypothesis that parents with more risk and less protective factors show poorer parenting. Parents with more psychopathology and parenting stress do show poorer parenting than parents without these problems. Based on our findings, we describe several implications for engaging and supporting parents of adolescents in secure residential care.