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Entries in parenting (54)

Tuesday
May192015

Cheating: It's a Family Affair

Why do people cheat? It’s a question we get (and address) here at ScienceOfRelationship.com regularly. Our coverage of the topic generally reflects the state of research on the topic, which focuses on proximal predictors of infidelity --- or science jargon for those things about individuals or relationships that directly increase the likelihood somebody will cheat, such as low commitment, more attractive alternatives, lack of impulse control, narcissism, and so on. But what if we dig further in a person’s history, perhaps even preceding her or his foray into the world of romantic and sexual relationships? Are there more distal signs or risk factors for whether somebody will one day cheat on a partner? It would appear so.

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Tuesday
May122015

Parental Emotional Coaching and Children's Peer Relationships: Relationship Matters Podcast 47

In the season finale of SAGE’s Relationship Matters podcast, hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College, Dr. Kelly Buckholdt (University of Memphis) discusses the role of parental emotion coaching on their kid’s relationships with peers.

The research team (also consisting of Katherine Kitzmann and Robert Cohen, both of the Univ. of Memphis), studied 129 fourth through sixth graders. The students were asked about how their parents respond when the kids were sad or angry. Students were also asked about their peer-relationships, feelings of respect from peers, and feelings of loneliness and optimism.

So what did they find? If kids reported that their parents were low in emotion coaching (i.e., not very good at helping the kid process and understand feelings), then the kids were more likely to feel lonely when they weren’t happy about their peer-relationships. But when parents were seen as good at emotion coaching, then kids still felt socially competent and had a positive self-perception, even when they had problematic peer relationships. Thus, it seems that parent emotion coaching may buffer kids from potential negative effects associated with poor peer relationships.

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Wednesday
Apr222015

The Psychology of Attractiveness Podcast - How Parents Meddle in Their Children's Love Lives

Meet the parents! Robert Burriss discusses two new experiments show how choosing a partner can send shockwaves across the generations. Find out how parents meddle in their children’s love lives, and how sexy sons lead to handsome fathers.

Check out the newest episode of The Psychology of Attractiveness podcast here.

Friday
Apr102015

Knowledge About Your Adolescent’s Life: Will it Necessarily Decline Over Time? (Hint: Probably)

As we’ve reviewed previously, it’s hard for parents to fight the natural expectations kids develop regarding their right to privacy; as kids grow older and become more independent they naturally desire more privacy which causes them to disclose less and less to their parents. As a result, how much parents know about what their kids do on a daily basis (i.e., parental knowledge) declines during adolescence.

But much of the past work on the topic of parental knowledge focuses on mean, or average, levels of parental knowledge rather than considering the possibility that different types of families might show different patterns of change, or trajectories, in such knowledge over time. Such heterogeneity in parental knowledge would have important implications and applications as it would help researchers identify those families (and their potentially resilient characteristics) that are able to ward off declines in parental knowledge versus those that demonstrate more typical patterns (and, as a parent, I can imagine that information being very useful). 

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Wednesday
Feb252015

Does Parenting Make People Happy or Miserable?

Parenting, no doubt, is a demanding job. While parenting can bring people great joy and meaning, it can also be incredibly stressful and frustrating. The debate over whether parents are more or less happy than non-parents doesn’t have a definitive answer. This is in part due to the fact that people who have children differ, on average, from those who do not have children in ways that are related to happiness, such as in their marital status, age, and income. 

While people have debated whether parents are happier than non-parents, researchers suggest that the question of whether parents are more or less happy is not the most meaningful question. Rather, we should begin asking the questions of when, why, and how parenting may contribute to greater happiness or negativity. In a recent review linking parenting and well-being, researchers outlined a number of these differences, and identify a wide range of factors that affect the degree to which parenting affects happiness.1 Spoiler alert: It’s complicated.

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Wednesday
Jan212015

An Unexpected Key To Kids’ Popularity

To better understand what makes kids popular, researchers measured 144 3rd through 8th grade students’ prosocial behaviors (i.e., doing good things for others) and physical/verbal aggression. As you’d expect, kids nominated as popular were more likely to exhibit prosocial behaviors. But, unexpectedly, the popular kids were also more aggressive. Even kids who displayed high levels of verbal and physical aggression (e.g., mean name-calling, pushing/shoving) were popular if they also engaged in prosocial behaviors. Finally, being nice to others was more beneficial for girls’ popularity than boys. As much as a parent doesn’t want their child to be aggressive, it apparently has some upside.

Kornbluh, M., & Neal, J. W. (2014). Examining the many dimensions of children’s popularity: Interactions between aggression, prosocial behaviors, and gender. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi: 0.1177/0265407514562562

Wednesday
Oct292014

What Happens When Relationship Researchers Fall Short?

We have been a romantic couple for almost 20 years, married for 13 years, produced two wonderful children, moved across the country for academic jobs, conducted numerous scientific studies examining romantic couples, and…will soon be divorced. How could two people who study why romantic couples fail or succeed be such utter failures themselves? The answer is easy: we are human. Like everyone else we have faults. We argue. We disagree. We neglect. We make bad choices. In the past, we have always been able to survive these shortcomings.

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Friday
Oct032014

Kids vs. Scantily Clad Women: Which Do New Dads Prefer and Why?

We’ve written previously that fatherhood is associated with decreased levels of testosterone in dads (except for when a testosterone boost might come in handy). For the most part, the general belief has been that the dads’ lower testosterone limits their impulses to mate (presumably not with their baby-momma), thus keeping them invested in their children.

Some recent research from Emory University, however, suggests another, or additional, possibility.1 Specifically, the researchers compared the testosterone and oxytocin hormone levels of a group of fathers of 1-2 year old children with hormone  levels of men without children. In addition to collecting blood samples to measure the hormones, the researchers also scanned the brains (via MRI scans) of all the men while they were looking at 3 types of pictures: 1) children’s faces (of the same sex and age as their own kids, and depicting a range of emotional expressions), 2) unknown adult faces displaying similar emotions, and 3) scantily clad women. The research team was interested in whether fathers vs. non-fathers responded neurologically (i.e., as assessed via increased brain activation) to the different types of images and, if so, what role hormones play in those neural responses.

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Wednesday
Oct012014

Parental Alienation and the Fight for Children’s Hearts and Minds

Parental alienation involves one parent spoiling the relationship between a child and the other parent in the absence of actual abuse or neglect. In both my personal and professional lives, I have seen many parents actively turn their children against the other parent in an effort to “keep them (the child) close,” and to undermine their child’s loving bond with the other parent. Although research has demonstrated that parental alienation has very negative effects on children (e.g., depression, substance abuse and conduct disorders), few researchers have examined empirically how exactly parents engage in this alienation behavior.

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Friday
Sep122014

Easy Love: Is it Easier for Some People to Love than it is for Others?

The other day, I asked my kids (7 and 8 years old) to sign a birthday card for a relative that they had only met a few times. I expected that their misspelled words and child-like handwriting would be appealing to the card’s recipient. What I didn’t expect was for their messages to be full of love: “I love you,” “xoxox,” and hearts dotting each letter "i". Where were these demonstrative notes for a relatively unknown person coming from?  Should I be worried about my overly affectionate children?

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Wednesday
Aug132014

Because I Said So…At Least Until You Say So: Parental Authority Over College-Aged Kids

Parents of college students regularly find themselves in quite a bind – they have to figure out that delicate balance between being an authority figure while simultaneously respecting their kids’ increasing independence. This is because typical college students, as well as other individuals between the ages of 18 and 25, are commonly referred to as emerging adults -- those in this age range do not entirely view themselves as adults nor do they view themselves as kids. As a result, parents of college students have to somehow be a parent to someone who may no longer live under the same roof, but is typically not living entirely independently and grappling with all of the complications that a full-fledged adult life entails either (not to take anything away from the huge responsibilities that many college students deal with every day). Simply put: When is it appropriate for parents of college students to put their foot (or feet) down and provide direction vs. hold back and let their kids make their own mistakes? Balance this conundrum with the knowledge that parents’ aging children actually like their parents more when they maintain appropriate boundaries, and you have a recipe for quite the pickle.

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Monday
Aug042014

3 Lesson Learned from My Unplugged Vacation

My blended family (ages 5, 6, 7, 11, and 13) just returned from a weeklong road trip through Yellowstone National Park. During the trip, we conducted our own mini-experiment: Each of us eliminated electronic use for anything other than music. No iPhone apps, no social media, no electronic games, no texting or phone calls unless there was an emergency. There was almost no cell phone reception across the park, which made enforcement easy, but the results of our self-inflicted ‘mandatory’ unplugging still surprised me in three fundamental ways:

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Saturday
Jul052014

Three Day Weekends Necessitate Playdates

Click here to read our articles on parenting.

Sunday
Jun222014

Must Be a PC User

Click here to read our articles on paternity confidence.

image source: @distractify

Thursday
Jun052014

Unplugging to Reconnect this Summer 

When I was young, family vacations involved long road trips, my Walkman, 3 cassette tapes (usually Michael Jackson, Eddie Grant, and early U2 in heavy rotation), and the alphabet game. In many ways, these trips resembled the classic National Lampoon’s Vacation, which may explain why the movie has always been a favorite of mine. Fortunately, my family never had to drive across the country with a dead grandmother on the car roof, but I always empathized with Rusty and Audrey’s unrelenting boredom on their ride from Chicago to Wally World in LA.  

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Monday
Apr142014

Childfree and Carefree? It Depends on Your Nationality

“The next time you’re opening presents will be at your baby shower.” My mother-in-law (MIL) spoke these words to me the day after my wife and I were married and we were opening wedding gifts. Admittedly, my experience is not unique; I know of others who felt pressured to have kids soon after getting hitched (and in many cases prior to that). My MIL’s comment reflects her (and many others’) strong pronatalism, or the belief that adults should have and raise children for their own and society’s well-being. In fact, pronatalism can be so strong that the resulting societal pressure to have kids ultimately undermines childfree (or childless)* individuals’ happiness and life satisfaction.

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Monday
Mar312014

What’s a Parent To Do?: Raising Teens to Having Healthy Relationships

One of the more alarming trends in the adolescent and young adult dating world over the past few decades is the increase in reports of dating violence. Specifically, more than 50% of adolescents with dating experience report some past dating violence, whether as perpetrator or victim.1 Moreover, today’s adolescent dating violence, which often results from conflicts that get out of hand, generally shows no gender bias: both young women and young men are equally likely to perpetrate (and be victims). When it comes to public health issues, the prevalence of teen dating violence is a pretty big deal, which is why the Centers for Disease Control has an entire section of their website dedicated to educating people about healthy teen relationships, and researchers are giving considerable attention to the issue.

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Monday
Jan272014

(Mother’s) Milk: It Does a Body Good and Bad?

We are what we eat, but are we also what we drink? When it comes to breast-feeding infants, we very well may be. Researchers are increasingly studying the links between the early environment of a child’s life and later life outcomes for that child, with a particular focus on how mom’s biology and behavior can influence the way that children ultimately respond to stress (which has enormous implications for health across the lifespan). In a recent study, researchers tested what they refer to as “lactational programming,” which is fancy science talk for the idea that a mom can influence her child’s biological development, for better or worse, through her breastmilk. Think of it as secondhand hormones – if mom experiences stress, she’ll have higher levels of stress hormones, some of which will be passed along to her breastfeeding infant. And because infants’ bodily systems are still developing, those secondhand hormones influence the infants’ own biology and behavior.

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Monday
Jan062014

Stuck in the Middle: When Kids Feel Caught Between Parents

 

My wife and I don’t always agree on the best way to parent our two kids. We sometimes have different ideas about how to broaden their palates, limit screen time (here’s hoping one of those freakish talking animals turns on Diego very soon), and how to blend our respective family holiday traditions. When we’re grappling with these and other parenting issues, we engage in what researchers call co-parental communication, which generally refers to how she and I communicate with one another and our children when parenting.

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Wednesday
Oct022013

Difficult Parenting Conversations: Death and Dying

The Scene: My three-year old daughter and I are at Grandma H’s viewing where I racked up parenting fail #315, because I did not want to talk about death with my kid.

The Kid: Who is that? (She asks after spotting the casket at the front of the room in which a coiffed and suited Grandma H resides.)

Mama: That’s Grandma H.

The Kid: Is she old?

Mama: Yes.

Nailed it, right? Ok, not so much. I would like to say that my daughter and I had a deep conversation about death and dying after Grandma H’s viewing…that I was able to talk to my daughter in an age-appropriate and snappy way. It was fall after all, a seemingly good time to talk about dying, given the decay around. I could hear myself now, “Grandma was like a leaf…” 

But, I let the moment pass. The month before Grandma’s funeral, I fast-forwarded through the part in the Lion King when Mufasa dies. How do you explain that to a three-year-old? My apparent inability to discuss death with my kid is not that unusual. In Western culture (and in my white, Protestant, middle-class background), most of us do not have explicit conversations about death and dying1. I did not talk to my daughter because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing and of having to explain that I am mortal, too. I wish I had been as quick as a friend who, after she asked him about dying, took his daughter to a graveyard to explain that he would die someday and turn into the dirt she loved to play in.

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