Methods: Fourteen incarcerated fathers were recruited to participate a 12-lesson prison-based Personal Narrative Intervention. Content of the intervention was delivered from the social workers by post. Drawing from a narrative therapy approach, incarcerated fathers were guided to reflect on themes regarding their previous life experiences (e.g., background of family-of-origin, their childhood experiences with their family-of-origin, their values and beliefs as a parent, and their preference on parenting styles) through theme-based reflective writing. Drawing from a constructivist approach, this research captured incarcerated fathers' reflective processes of their previous life experiences. Participants’ reflective writings were reviewed by a panel of social workers and researchers. Content of all reflective writing was collected and thematically coded, following Braun and Clare’s (2006) 6-step framework for thematic analysis.
Results: Three main themes in adaptive reflections that contributed to the self-reflections of incarcerated fathers’ parenting were revealed from approximately 137 pieces of reflective writing from incarcerated participants (N = 14): (1) Awareness of the adverse childhood experiences and how these experiences are affecting their attitudes and emotions (e.g., emotion neglect and conflictual parent-child interactions); (2) Adaptive coping (e.g., attempts to reflect on the adverse childhood experiences through communicating with and forgiving their own parents); and (3) Meaning-making from the past experiences (e.g., acknowledgement of their parenting attitudes and behaviours and differentiating those from their own family-of-origin, such as dysfunctional parent-child interactions in family-of-origin and their ignorance on the importance of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for children development in their current parenting).
Conclusions and Implications: The study has shed light of designing personal narrative intervention for incarcerated individuals, which can be considered as a new direction of social work rehabilitation programmes on those who are parents. Such kind of self-administered intervention with postal feedbacks from social workers can prepare individuals to restore functional and adaptive parenthood after discharge. Reflective parenting can facilitate inmates to be aware of the possible intergenerational transmission of maladaptive behaviours and attitudes. We recommend prison-based rehabilitation programmes can promote reflective parenting, through adaptive reflections, so as to lay a positive foundation for future parent-child relationships and to secure and promote healthy children development.