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Families at Risk (FAR)

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Initiative Director:
Douglas Teti, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Psychology and Pediatrics

The Families at Risk (FAR) initiative is focused on understanding the nature of risk within and across families and the mechanisms that determine the course and influence of family risk and well-being. Interests of initiative participants vary widely and include relational processes pertaining to parents and children, marital dyads, sibling relationships, and overall family functioning.  As an example, parenting is complex and emotionally driven, making parents’ capacity to regulate their own emotions and behavior central to effective child-rearing. Many Families at Risk faculty whose focus is parenting are interested in understanding parenting “in the moment” by examining experienced parental emotions as parenting proceeds, so as to better understand the momentary processes that place parenting at risk, including risk for child abuse and neglect.  FAR members are also interested in a range of factors that represent challenges to effective parenting, marital, and family functioning, including  low parent intellectual functioning; a history of maltreatment as a child; living under conditions of poverty, family instability or other stressors; and parental mental health.  A central theme involves understanding bidirectional influences that emerge through dynamic patterns of interactions within families, how they contribute to the quality of marital and parent-child relationships, and how such processes affect children’s development.  The role of culture and the broader community and family context are also of interest.  Overall, a central goal of the initiative is to use basic research to inform the design of preventive and early interventions that promote positive family development, and to test their effectiveness.

For more information about this research initiative, please contact Douglas Teti.

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