The resounding influence of benevolent childhood experiences

Kaley A. Herman, Dane S. Hautala, Kevalin M.W. Aulandez, Melissa L. Walls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research with Indigenous communities has demonstrated the detrimental impacts of intergenerational trauma and disproportionate adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on health and behavioral outcomes in adulthood. A more balanced narrative that includes positive childhood experiences is needed. The construct of benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) facilitates assessment of positive early life experiences and their impact on well-being for Indigenous peoples. We consider associations between BCEs and well-being when taking into account ACEs and adult positive experiences. Participants are from Healing Pathways, a longitudinal, community-based panel study with Indigenous families in the Midwestern United States and Canada. Data for the current analyses are derived from 453 participants interviewed at wave 9 of the study. Participants reported high levels of positive childhood experiences in the form of BCEs, with 86.5% of the wave 9 participants reporting experiencing at least six of seven positive indicators. BCEs were positively associated with young adult well-being. This relationship persisted even when accounting for ACEs and adult positive experiences. While ACEs were negatively correlated with young adult well-being, they were not significantly associated with well-being when considering family satisfaction and receiving emotional support. Evidence of high levels of BCEs reflects realities of strong Indigenous families and an abundance of positive childhood experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Journaltranscultural psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • childhood experiences
  • mental health
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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