Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) in Homeless Parents: A Validation and Replication Study

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Homelessness, Resilience, Childhood adversity, Psychological distress, Parenting stress


This study extends the validity and replicability of the Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) scale, a novel instrument for adults with childhood adversity. The BCEs scale assesses 10 favorable childhood experiences, yielding a total score similar to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scale (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017; Felitti et al., 1998). The current study examined the BCEs scale in a sample of homeless parents and hypothesized that higher levels of total BCEs would predict lower odds of psychological distress, sociodemographic risk, and parenting stress after accounting for ACEs. Participants were 50 ethnically diverse parents (42 birth mothers, 5 birth fathers, 1 stepfather, and 2 grandmothers in the primary caregiver role; M = 32.50 years, SD = 9.29, range = 21–62 years; 66% African American, 12% White, 12% American Indian, 10% biracial/other) residing at a homeless shelter with their children. Parents completed the BCEs and ACEs scales and instruments on psychological distress, sociodemographic risk, and parenting stress. Higher levels of BCEs predicted lower odds of psychological distress, as expected. Higher levels of ACEs predicted higher sociodemographic risk. However, neither BCEs nor ACEs predicted parenting stress. Mean levels of total BCEs and item frequencies were strikingly similar to the pilot sample, although homeless parents reported significantly lower predictable home routines in childhood. BCEs and ACEs were only modestly negatively associated, underscoring the independence of adverse and positive early experiences. The BCEs scale is a promising, brief and culturally sensitive index of childhood experiences linked to long-term resilience.

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Copyright is held by American Psychological Association. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. This article was originally published as:

Merrick, J. S., Narayan, A. J., DePasquale, C. E., & Masten, A. S. (2019). Benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) in homeless parents: A validation and replication study. Journal of Family Psychology, 33(4), 493–498.

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American Psychological Association


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English (eng)

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Journal of Family Psychology





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