Parenting 101

Relationship-strengthening class helps improve lives for new families

(RxWiki News) Expectant parents who completed a brief relationship-strengthening class around the time their child was born were shown to have been impacted positively.

The class produced lasting effects on each family member's overall well-being and helped familial relationships, according to a new study from Penn State, led by Mark Feinberg, senior research associate at the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development. For three years after the birth of a child, Feinberg and associates analyzed the effects of the Family Foundations program.

The program teaches relationship-boosting skills for all parents, not only for those identified as "at risk" (i.e. young parents from low socioeconomic backgrounds). Parents who took part in the classes cited lower levels of stress and depression symptoms and more confidence in their parenting skills compared to those who were randomly assigned to a control group.

The parents enrolled in the course also displayed more effective parenting styles; They overreacted less and were less likely to spank, slap, grab or hit their children as forms or punishment.

According to Feinberg, the classes aim to give parents the tools, skills and perspectives to support each other, which should result in better co-parenting relations that buffer against everyday stressors.

"When we feel supported, we feel tend to feel more confident and less distressed -- we have a longer fuse, rather than a shorter fuse," Feinberg said. "All this can lead to parents getting emotionally closer and more supportive of each other and their children."

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Review Date: 
December 2, 2010