Parenting schemas and the process of change

Sandra T. Azar, Robert L. Nix, Kerry N. Makin-Byrd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Parents' childrearing behaviors are guided by schemas of the caregiving role, their functioning in that role, what children need in general, and what their own children are like in particular. Sometimes, however, parenting schemas can be maladaptive because they are too rigid or simple, involve inappropriate content, or are dominated by negative affect. In this article, we describe parenting schemas and provide an overview of empirical work documenting the characteristics of maladaptive parenting schemas. We review how intervention practices common to multiple therapeutic approaches (cognitive-behavior therapy, family therapy, parent training, attachment-based interventions, and psychoanalytic parent-infant psychotherapy) attempt to modify schemas to promote more optimal functioning among parents. We highlight how research in cognitive science may explain, in part, treatment effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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