Parenting difficulties among adult survivors of father-daughter incest

Pamela M. Cole, Christi Woolger, Thomas G. Power, K. Danielle Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Women with a history of father-daughter incest as children often report difficulty in parenting their own children. This study examined the self-reported parenting experience and practices of women who were incest victims as children. Since many incest victims are also children of alcoholics, we compared their reports of parenting with those of women whose fathers were alcoholic but not sexually abusive, and to women who had no known risk during their childhood. The findings were that incest survivors reported significantly less confidence and less sense of control as parents than nonrisk mothers. In addition, they reported significantly less support in the parental partnership with their spouses, and reported being less consistent and organized, and making fewer maturity demands on their children. The findings are discussed in terms of the incest survivor's sense of inefficacy and loss of control, the potential of the marital relationship to buffer the adverse effects of growing up in the dysfunctional, incestuous family, and future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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