March 13, 2012

Parental Teamwork: Harder With Violence

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Violence linked to couples ability to work as a team

(dailyRx News) Couples that are living together have more trouble acting as a team if they are violent to one another. This is not extreme violence or domestic abuse, but common violent actions born from arguments or frustration.

The study interviewed expectant parents three times over the course of their pregnancy and infancy to determine the amount of common couple violence, like shoving or slapping, and their ability to parent as a team. Higher rates of violence were linked to lower parental teamwork.

"Consult your therapist for healthier ways to deal with frustration."

Mark E. Feinberg, Ph.D ., of the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State, led the study.

Clinical psychologist and relationship expert Nicole Meise, Ph.D., adds “it is important to not only recognize the impact that seeing parents fight or engage in violent behavior may have on a child; but also understand that if you lash out at each other you may be more likely to lash out at your kids.”

The researchers interviewed 156 expectant parents 3 times each. First before the baby was born, then 6 months after birth, and lastly 13 months after birth.

The couples answered questions about physical aggression over the last year for themselves and for their partner. 29.8% of the mothers acted violently at least once in the past year, while 17.3% of fathers acted violently. Researchers state that mothers acting more violently than fathers is not uncommon.

The study is not talking about severe acts of violence meant to control or manipulate, but common acts of violence due to frustration - like shoving or slapping.

In another survey couples answered questions that determined their ability to act as a team. They answered questions like “My relationship with my partner is stronger now than before we had a child," and "My partner does not trust my parenting abilities." A higher score on this test indicated that the couple was more likely to work as a team.

The study was published online in the Feb. 2012 edition of the Journal of Family Issues and was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
March 7, 2012

Last Updated:
March 13, 2012