Entries in parents (9)


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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Questioning The Romeo And Juliet Effect: Is Parental Interference Good Or Bad For A Relationship?

(Reposted from The Psychology of Human Sexuality)

 In 1972, a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology announced scientific support for the so-called “Romeo and Juliet effect." The basic idea was that the more parents try to interfere in a couple’s relationship, the stronger that relationship becomes--just like in Shakespeare's classic story. Given both the sexy name and intuitive appeal of this idea, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that this effect has been cited hundreds of times in academic journals and textbooks. In recent years, however, several scientists (myself included) have grown skeptical of this idea because it just doesn’t seem to fit with what the broader literature on social approval and relationships has reported.

For instance, I published a series of three studies over the last decade showing that when one’s family and friends do not accept or approve of one’s relationship, the health of the partners and the quality of the relationship tends to suffer. Specifically, when people perceive that their romantic relationship is marginalized, not only do they report worse physical and psychological health [1] and less commitment to their relationship [2], but they also have an increased likelihood of breaking up in the next year [3] (see here for a more detailed summary of some of this research). In light of these results, one might reasonably predict the opposite of the Romeo and Juliet effect: when parents don’t approve of a relationship and try to interfere, that relationship is more likely to deteriorate rather than flourish.

But if this is the case, how do we explain the findings of the 1972 study?

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The Best Time of the Year for Making Babies

Someone innocently created a chart so that people could determine how common their birthday is (click here to see that chart). Then someone came along and thought, "huh, what if I shift all of those dates by 9 months?"  Thus, through the magic of the internet, there is now a chart depicting the most common dates for people to make babies.

Click here for our article about the seasons when people have the most sex (not necessarily for the purposes of procreation). 

image source: ilovecharts.tumblr.com


Understanding ‘The Price of Marriage in China’

The New York Times recently covered two very different match-making stories that unfolded in Beijing (read the article here). In one, a wealthy bachelor nicknamed “Mr. Big” paid more than half a million dollars for a squad of “love hunters” to scour the country looking for his vision of the ideal wife: a milky-skinned virgin eighteen years his junior. In the second, Ms. Yu, the desperate mother of an unmarried forty-year-old man, spent her days making fruitless trips to the local match-making park. (Yes, there really are parks for parents to meet other parents and set their mutual children up on blind dates—more on this below.) She had been searching for a daughter-in-law for four years, but her son’s “pickiness” and meager financial prospects quashed every lead she could generate.

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Dating Tips from George Costanza's Playbook – Lesson 1: Reactance

Hopefully you still remember George Costanza, the eccentric best friend of Jerry Seinfeld. In thinking back over the nine years we spent getting to know him, perhaps the most intriguing thing about him was his uncanny success in the dating department. Described by his own friends as “a short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man,” George clearly lacked the typical characteristics of heartthrob. So what was his secret when it came to landing a lady?

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Whose Opinion Matters More: Parents' or Friends'?

When my wife and I first started dating, she would joke that because I valued my best friend’s opinion so much, we would only be able to stay together if he approved of her…at least I think she was joking.  Fortunately, he gave me his blessing, and now my wife and I are happily married. But why wasn’t my wife worried about what my parents would think of her? Did she believe that I don’t trust my parents’ advice? (Mom and Dad, I do listen to your advice…most of the time). Or did my wife simply believe that my best friend’s advice would carry more weight than my parents’?

Researchers have examined just this – whose opinion, friends' or parents', has more influence on individuals’ dating choices.

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Natural Parenting

From xkcd.com.


Fathers: Filling the Void to Help Create a Better You

What follows is a rough transcript of a conversation I had with a woman a few weeks ago while at my neighbor’s barbeque. (Background: She heard that I had two kids and my son had recently turned 5 months old). 

Her: So, what does your wife do?
Me: She’s a paralegal.
Her: Does she work full-time?
Me: Yes
Her: That must be really hard for her -- having to put her son in childcare all day. [note: she may not have emphasized the ‘her’, but I certainly heard it so]
Me: Yes, it is hard for us; we don’t like spending any more time away from our kids than we have to.

Admittedly, I may have stressed the plural pronouns in my response overly enthusiastically, but as someone who fancies himself an involved father, I couldn’t help but make it clear that childrearing or life decisions that affect our children are made by, and impact, both me and my wife.

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The High Costs of Parenthood

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the costs of raising kids. To be clear, I’m not talking about the monetary costs ($118k to $250k in the U.S. by the time the kid reaches age 18, and that’s not counting college). Rather, a lot of the popular press writing on the topic has focused on the drop in marital and/or life satisfaction individuals experience following the birth of a child. Both New York Magazine (All Joy and No Fun: Why parents hate parenting) and a more recent story on CNN.com (Does having children make you happy?) paint a gloomy picture regarding the impact children have on individual and relationship well-being.

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