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When parents do better at parenting, they get on better

Photo: Morgan Rains. Creative Commons.

When fathers reported more confidence in the quality of their own parenting, they and the mothers were more likely to say their relationship was positive.

We divided a group of 100 parents in two and asked half of them to participate in a parenting training programme, Triple P, which improved their child’s behaviour. (The parents attended four 2.5 hour workshops.)

We found that when mothers reported their children behaved better, both they and the fathers were more likely to say their relationship with each other was positive.

When fathers reported their children behaved better, it made little difference to the relationship. We believe that the explanation for this difference could be that mothers, who tend to be more involved in caring for children, are more sensitive than fathers to a child’s behaviour and react more to it in a way that affects the couple relationship.

Interestingly however, we found that when fathers reported to benefit from Triple P in terms of their own parenting, both they and the mothers were more likely to say their relationship improved after the treatment. It appears that when fathers feel more confident at parenting it makes both partners happier.

The lesson for parenting?

  1. Taking a parenting course is a good idea! It improves your child’s behavior and this, in turn, may improve your relationship.
  2. Make sure the father participates. More hands-on and skilled fathers make for happier families.