Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 9, pp 2871–2886 | Cite as

Mother–child Narrative Interaction in Adoptive Families: Differences Across Narrative Contexts

  • Marlene P. SousaEmail author
  • Margarida R. Henriques
  • Miguel M. Gonçalves
Original Paper


The majority of the existing research dedicated to the mother–child narrative interaction has focused on biological families during the co-construction of autobiographical narratives and has consistently shown that the mothers’ narrative support has an important influence on children’s narrative participation and overall development. The current study aimed to compare adoptive mothers’ narrative support and children’s narrative participation in different types of narrative tasks. Specifically, we analyzed the narrative interaction between 30 preschool-aged children and their adoptive mothers during the co-construction of two autobiographical narratives and one fictional narrative. We also explored the influence of the mothers’ use of elaborative and repetitive narrative dimensions, as well as the children’s sex, early adversity, and language development in children’s narrative participation. The results revealed that the adoptive mothers tended to use the elaborative dimension more in the fictional narrative than in the autobiographical ones. For the adoptive mothers’ use of the repetitive dimension and the children’s narrative participation, no significant differences were found between the three narrative tasks. Additionally, the results showed that the adoptive mothers’ use of the elaborative dimension significantly predicted children’s participation in the autobiographical narratives, while their use of the repetitive dimension significantly predicted children’s participation in the fictional narrative. The results of this study highlighted the relevance of the adoptive mothers’ ability to adapt their narrative support to the specific type of narrative task, as well as how such support may enhance or hinder children’s narrative participation during the co-construction of both autobiographical and fictional narratives.


Mother–child narrative interaction Mothers’ narrative support Autobiographical narratives Fictional narratives Adoptive families 



We acknowledge the colleagues that collaborated in data collection and coding, as well as the families that participated in this study.

Author Contributions

MS designed and executed the study, assisted with the data coding and analyses, and wrote the paper. MH collaborated with the design, data analyses and writing of the paper. MG collaborated in the writing of the paper and editing of its final version.


This study was funded by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (M. Sousa PhD Grant Number SFRH/BD/68843/2010).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The ethical approval was provided by the Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education of University of Porto.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Institute of Maia (ISMAI) Affiliated to the Center of Psychology of University of Porto, Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of EducationUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Faculty of Psychology and Sciences of Education, Center of PsychologyUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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