Violent relationships likely detrimental to good parenting

Victoria M. Indivero
EurekAlert

Couples who are married or living together will probably have more trouble parenting as a team if they have been violent toward one another during pregnancy, according to a team of psychologists.

“This finding is helpful because working as a parenting team, in what we call the co-parenting relationship, is a key influence on everything from mothers’ postpartum depression to sensitive parenting to the children’s emotional and social adjustment,” said Mark E. Feinberg, research professor, Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State.

Researchers interviewed 156 expectant couples at three different times — once before the baby was born, again about six months after the birth of the child and a final time, when the baby was approximately 13 months old. The interviews determined the degree of physical violence between couples prior to the birth of the baby and how well couples were able to act as a team while parenting, after the baby was born.

“The results suggest that working with couples to curtail or prevent violence in their relationships before the birth of their child may have positive implications for the development of co-parenting relationships after the child is born,” said the researchers.

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