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Linking observing and nonreactivity mindfulness to parenting: Moderated direct and indirect effects via inhibitory control

APA Citation:

Zhang, N., Zhang, J., Gewirtz, A. H., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2024). Linking observing and nonreactivity mindfulness to parenting: Moderated direct and indirect effects via inhibitory control. Journal of Family Psychology, 38(1), 71–81. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0001152

Abstract Created by REACH:

2 components of mindfulness are observing, which is the capacity to notice one’s inner experiences (e.g., feelings, sensations), and nonreactivity, which is the capacity to refrain from impulsive reactions to inner experiences. This study examined the influence of militaryconnected parents’ observing and nonreactivity on their inhibitory control (i.e., remaining goalfocused while ignoring distractions) and effective parenting over time. 607 parents’ observing, nonreactivity, inhibitory control, and effective parenting were assessed at baseline. 1 year later, the parents’ inhibitory control was reassessed; 2 years later, their effective parenting was reassessed. Overall, whether the fathers’ level of observing benefitted or detracted from their parenting effectiveness 2 years later depended on their level of nonreactivity. However, the mothers’ observing and nonreactivity were unrelated to later parenting effectiveness.



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran
Spouse of service member or veteran
Military families


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
Preschool age (2 -5 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)


Zhang, Na, Zhang, Jingchen, Gewirtz, Abigail H., Deater-Deckard, Kirby


To disentangle the effects of key dimensions of dispositional mindfulness on parenting, the present study tests the hypotheses that parental Nonreactivity moderates the association between Observing and effective parenting behaviors, and that parental inhibitory control mediates the relationship between Observing and parenting depending on levels of Nonreactivity. The sample consists of 294 fathers (95.9% deployed) and 313 mothers (81.5% nondeployed) from 336 military families with a child aged between 4 and 13 years at baseline. Parents reported Observing and Nonreactivity at baseline using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and completed a computerized Go/No-Go task for assessing inhibitory control at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Families completed a series of in-home interaction tasks at baseline and 2-year follow-up, and effective parenting behaviors were observed and coded using a theory-driven, empirically validated coding system. Results showed that when fathers reported low Nonreactivity, the association between Observing and effective parenting behaviors 2 years later was negative, but this association became positive when fathers reported high Nonreactivity. Fathers’ Observing was associated with decreased inhibitory control 1 year later when they reported low (vs. high) Nonreactivity, whereas mothers’ Observing was associated with increased inhibitory control 1 year later when they reported high (vs. low) Nonreactivity. The hypothesized effect of inhibitory control as a mediator was not found. Understanding specificity in the effects of dispositional mindfulness dimensions on parenting behaviors will drive effective and efficient designs of mindful parenting interventions. Future research should use dismantling experimental designs to test the synergistic effects of Observing and Nonreactivity in parents. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


Military Families, Military Personnel, Mindfulness, Parental Characteristics, Parenting, Parents

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  December 2023

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