Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child Development


Buffering intergenerational trauma (IGT) is of great interest to researchers, policy makers and interventionists working to reduce the experience of trauma across generations within the family. IGT has been well studied among families who experienced the Holocaust and there is emerging IGT literature describing the impact of historical events and societal-based adverse experiences across generations. This study expanded upon the IGT literature by exploring and confirming the existence of IGT in a sample of primarily low-income African American and Latinx parents and their 6-year-old children; exploring pre-existing strengths and qualities in parents, such as Contemplative Self-Care (CSC) and Parent Self-Efficacy as IGT buffers; and, exploring parents' mindful-like behavior that may help reduce stress and trauma in their families. This study broke new ground as one of the first to describe the prevalence of IGT with a quantitative index signifying overlap in trauma between parents and children. It was also one of the first to explore parent traits as potential reducers of IGT and one of the first to intentionally integrate sociocultural context trauma items in a modified Adverse Childhood Experiences measure. A sample of 109 caregivers participated in this mixed methods study employing quantitative surveys and 60-minute qualitative interviews. The study found a high prevalence of IGT in this sample. The study did not find evidence for CSC as a moderator or buffer of IGT, although Parent Self-Efficacy partially mediated the relationship between child trauma and child negative behavior, suggesting that child trauma may impact parenting, even though the direction of effects is typically thought of the other way around. Qualitative findings additionally showed that parents actively engaged in “conscious buffering” strategies to help their children avoid the trauma from their own childhoods. Results from this study can inform future research, policy and practice related to IGT, particularly with African American and Latinx families, and suggest parent strengths and qualities that may help reduce IGT.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.