The work of the IRC and other organisations involved in parenting programmes has shown that parents and caregivers living in adversity are often struggling to provide support for their children, that they are interested in participating in group-based and home visiting programmes, and that parenting programmes can offer a promising strategy toward improving caregiving practices. At the same time, practical experiences from programme implementation point to the important links between caregivers’ psychological well-being, caregiving practices, and children’s developmental outcomes in humanitarian settings, which are often not addressed in existing parenting programmes. While existing research on these associations provides a theoretical foundation for developing responsive programming to address the needs of parents and children in wartime, there is a dearth of rigorous studies from conflict settings to shed light on effective intervention strategies.
Focused investigations of the impact of violence and war-related stress on parenting behaviours and the implications for children’s developmental outcomes could help shape humanitarian interventions seeking to tailor programmes to the needs of war-affected populations. Additionally, research on the effectiveness of contextually adapted behavior change techniques, used in parenting interventions to increase responsive caregiving practices, reduce violence and promote children’s resilience, would provide further guidance for the development of wartime parenting interventions. By increasing support for and attention to the issue of parenting in contexts of war, researchers, practitioners, donors, policymakers, communities, caregivers and children can work together to change the developmental trajectory of millions of children at risk of poor outcomes and improve the future health and well-being of war-torn communities.