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Family and Parenting


More Family and Parenting Articles from Mom Psych

Anger in Disputes is More About the Climate of the Marriage than the Heat of the Moment

Three Perfectionist Thoughts That Can Hurt Your Family Life

Feeling Tired? 'Social Jetlag' Poses Obesity Health Hazard

Debunking the Parenting Wars

Family Life Study Reveals Key Events That Can Trigger Eating Disorders

Worrying Can Impact Interpersonal Relationships, Study Finds

On Feminists, Attachment Parents, Tiger Moms and Wise French Mothers. Oh, and Dads

Aunt Psych's Blog

Series: Core Competencies for Kids

What Self-Esteem Really Means

The Crucial Role of Self-Control

Decision-Making Skills

Prosocial Skills

Moral Intelligence

Bye-Bye Boot Camp: Positive Parenting for Challenging Kids



environmental effects on sperm dna



Study Suggests Father's Environmental Exposure Affects Sperm Epigenetics


September 12, 2017—Early results from a larger, ongoing study led by environmental health scientist Richard Pilsner at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that phthalate levels in expectant fathers have an effect on couples' reproductive success via epigenetic modifications of sperm DNA.

Phthalates are compounds found in plastics and personal care products such as shaving cream, and are estimated to be detectable in nearly 100 percent of the U.S. population. Exposure is known to disrupt some hormones and is associated in human studies with changes in such male reproductive measures as semen quality and androgen levels, Pilsner says.
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Engaging Fathers in Parenting Intervention Improves Outcomes for Both Kids and Fathers

January 23, 2017—A parenting program where fathers engage with their children through reading was found to boost the fathers' parenting skills while also improving the preschoolers' school readiness and behavior, finds a study led by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

"Unlike earlier research, our study finds that it is possible to engage fathers from low-income communities in parenting interventions, which benefits both the fathers and their children," said Anil Chacko, associate professor of counseling psychology at NYU Steinhardt and the lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.
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Study Examines Aspects of Family Relationships That May Affect Children's Disruptive Behavior


December 5, 2016—A new study has examined the interaction between coparenting and coercive parenting in predicting children's disruptive behaviour.

Coparenting describes the way in which adults work together in their role as parents. For example, high quality coparenting may include expressions of warmth between parents during interactions with the child, shared child-rearing values, and actions that support and extend a coparent's parenting efforts. Lower quality coparenting may involve criticism between parents, or actions that thwart or undermine a partner's parenting attempts. Coercive parenting represents a negative discipline strategy characterised by hitting, shouting, and scolding.

The study of 106 families with mother and father both resident found that the influence of high quality coparenting, previously assumed to be only beneficial, may be rather more complex.
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Should Parents Lie to Children About Santa?

November 23, 2016—Shops are bursting with toys, mince pies are on the menu and radios are blasting out Christmas tunes—so it's time for another festive favourite: lying to children.

Millions of parents convince their kids Father Christmas is real—but this lie may be damaging, according to psychologist Christopher Boyle and mental health researcher Kathy McKay.
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How Can a Family Function Better? Get outside Together

June 14, 2016—Getting out in nature, even for just a 20-minute walk, can go a long way toward restoring your attention. But does it have the same effect when you make it a family activity?

Family studies researchers at the University of Illinois have looked at the benefits of spending time in nature as a family, and theorize that families who regularly get outside together tend to function better.
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Study Links Environment and Parenting to Childhood Self-Control

April 14, 2016—University of Texas at Arlington researchers have found that by age 3 environmental influences such as parenting are relevant factors in the development of toddlers' self-control when they are asked not to do something they want to do, such as run into the street or eat a forbidden snack.

"Understanding the development of self-control mechanisms is vital as individuals with low levels of inhibitory control develop more cognitive and socio-emotional development issues, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD," said Jeffrey Gagne, an assistant professor of psychology in UTA's College of Science and co-author of the study.
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New Study Shows Emotional Cost for Parents Who Put on a Happy Face for Their Children

February 23, 2016—How do parents feel when they regulate their emotional expressions in ways that do not match their genuine feelings? Recent research suggests that parents' attempts to suppress negative and amplify positive emotions during child care can detract from their well-being and high-quality parent-child bonds. The findings were published in the March 2016 edition of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
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Stepchildren Who View Former Stepparents as Family Maintain Relationships after Divorce


Without legal or genetic ties, stepparent-stepchild relationships face uncertainty after breakups

COLUMBIA, MO; August 10, 2015—Remarriages often combine two families into one stepfamily unit. When that stepfamily unit dissolves after a divorce, little is known about the relationships between former stepparents and stepchildren. Now, researchers in the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences found stepchildren's views of former stepparents depended on emotional reactions to the divorce, patterns of support or resource exchanges, and parental encouragement or discouragement to continue step-relationships. Whether stepchildren maintained relationships with their former stepparents largely depended on whether stepchildren viewed their former stepparents as family.
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Massive Study: Birth Order Has No Meaningful Effect on Personality or IQ

CHAMPAIGN, IL; July 16, 2015—For those who believe that birth order influences traits like personality and intelligence, a study of 377,000 high school students offers some good news: Yes, the study found, first-borns do have higher IQs and consistently different personality traits than those born later in the family chronology. However, researchers say, the differences between first-borns and "later-borns" are so small that they have no practical relevance to people's lives.
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Strong Family Bonds Reduce Anxiety in Young People with Lived Experience of Domestic Violence

July 9, 2015—Strong relationships with other family members can help raise self-esteem and reduce anxiety for some young people who grow up in homes affected by parental domestic violence.
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As Siblings Learn How to Resolve Conflict, Parents Pick up a Few Tips of Their Own

URBANA, IL; June 25, 2015— When children participated in a program designed to reduce sibling conflict, both parents benefited from a lessening of hostilities on the home front. But mothers experienced a more direct reward. As they viewed the children's sessions in real time on a video monitor and coached the kids at home to respond as they'd been taught, moms found that, like their kids, they were better able to manage their own emotions during stressful moments.
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Families with Mentally Ill Members All Need Help

January 7, 2015—Listening to older sisters of mentally ill siblings discuss their mothers' difficult caregiving experiences made Case Western Reserve University co-investigator M. Jane Suresky wonder if something important about families was missed in a prior study that focused on women caregivers of mentally ill family members.
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Certain Parenting Tactics Could Lead to Materialistic Attitudes in Adulthood

COLUMBIA, MO; December 16, 2014—With the holiday season in full swing, many parents may be tempted to give children all the toys and gadgets they ask for or use the expectation of gifts to manage children’s behavior. Now, a new study from the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that parents who overuse material goods as part of their parenting strategy may be setting children up for difficulties later in adulthood.

“Our research suggests that children who receive many material rewards from their parents will likely continue rewarding themselves with material goods when they are grown—well into adulthood—and this could be problematic,” said Marsha Richins, Myron Watkins distinguished professor of marketing in the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at MU. “Our research highlights the value of examining childhood circumstances and parenting practices to understand consumer behaviors of adults.”
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Fathers' Engagement with Baby Depends on Mother


When moms are well-prepared for parenthood, fathers less involved

COLUMBUS, OH; November 19, 2014—Fathers’ involvement with their newborns depends on mothers’ preparation for parenthood, even for fathers who show the most parenting skills, a new study suggests.
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Relationships Benefit When Parents, Adult Children Connect through Multiple Channels

LAWRENCE, KS; October 24, 2014—"Call your mother" may be the familiar refrain, but research from the University of Kansas shows that being able to text, email and 'Facebook' dad may be just as important for young adults.  
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Two Days Later: Adolescents' Conflicts Spill Over between Home and School

October 23, 2014—The lives of adolescents at home and at school may seem quite separate, but recent research has highlighted important connections. Family conflict and problems at school tend to occur together on the same day and sometimes even spill over in both directions to the next day, with family conflict increasing the likelihood of problems at school and vice versa. Now a new study has found that conflicts at home spill over to school and school problems influence problems at home up to two days later, and that negative mood and psychological symptoms are important factors in the process.
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Teens Whose Parents Exert More Psychological Control Have Trouble with Closeness, Independence

October 23, 2014—For teenagers, learning to establish a healthy degree of autonomy and closeness in relationships (rather than easily giving in to peer pressure) is an important task. A new longitudinal study has found one reason adolescents struggle with balancing autonomy and closeness in relationships: parents' psychological control. Teens whose parents exerted more psychological control over them when they were 13 had more problems establishing friendships and romantic relationships that balanced closeness and independence, both in adolescence and into early adulthood.
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Hold On, Tiger Mom


Research by a UC Riverside assistant professor refutes the idea that the traditional, strict 'Chinese' upbringing, advocated for in the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is superior

September 22, 2014—Less supportive and punitive parenting techniques used by some Chinese parents might lead to the development of skewed self-understanding and school adjustment difficulties in their children and leave them vulnerable to depression and problem behaviors, according to a paper recently published by a University of California, Riverside assistant professor and other researchers.
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Fighting Parents Hurt Children’s Ability to Recognize and Regulate Emotions

September 17, 2014—Exposure to verbal and physical aggression between parents may hurt a child’s ability to identify and control emotions, according to a longitudinal study led by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The findings, which appear in the journal Development and Psychopathology, also suggest that household chaos and prolonged periods of poverty during early childhood may take a substantial toll on the emotional adjustment of young children.
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Dad Is Important for His Children's Development

September 3, 2014—A sensitive and attentive father has a positive influence on his child’s development, but only if he spends a considerable amount of time with the child during its first year.
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Outsourcing Parenthood? It Takes a Village and the Marketplace to Raise a Child

August 26, 2014—Ask any parent raising kids in today's fast-paced society and chances are they would agree that there are only so many hours in the day. Recognizing a need for help, many businesses now offer traditional caregiving services ranging from planning birthday parties to teaching children how to ride a bike. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, by outsourcing traditional parental duties, modern-day parents feel they are ultimately protecting parenthood.
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How Parents of Anxious Children Can Avoid the 'Protection Trap'


Anxiety in kids one of the most common disorders

Tempe, AZ; Aug. 25, 2014—Parents naturally comfort their children when they are scared, but new research shows that some reactions may actually reinforce their children's feelings of anxiety.
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'Super-Parent' Cultural Pressures Can Spur Mental Health Conditions in New Moms and Dads

SAN FRANCISCO; August 18, 2014—Mental health experts in the past three decades have emphasized the dangers of post-partum depression for mothers, but a University of Kansas researcher says expanding awareness of several other perinatal mental health conditions is important for all new parents, including fathers.
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With Distance Comes Greater Wisdom, Research Finds

June 9, 2014—If you're faced with a troubling personal dilemma, such as a cheating spouse, you are more likely to think wisely about it if you consider it as an observer would, says a study led by a professor at the University of Waterloo.
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Argument with Dad? Find Friendly Ears to Talk It Out

June 06, 2014—With Father's Day approaching, San Francisco State University researchers have some advice for creating better harmony with dad. In a recent study, he found that when an adolescent is having an argument with their father and seeks out others for help, the response he or she receives is linked to well-being and father-child relationships.
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Biting into Whole Foods Can Make Children Rowdy

April 23, 2014—There's a new secret to get your child to behave at the dinner table—cut up their food and they'll relax.
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Kids Misbehave within 10 Minutes of Spanking


First-of-its-kind study also finds that parents ignored best practices recommended by spanking advocates

April 15, 2014—A new study based on real-time audio recordings of parents practicing corporal punishment discovered that spanking was far more common than parents admit, that children were hit for trivial misdeeds and that children then misbehaved within 10 minutes of being punished.
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Bye-Bye Boot Camp: Positive Parenting for Challenging Kids

April 1, 2014—Having children is not a prerequisite for having strong opinions about childrearing, so it’s not remarkable that when we do have children, we can be a bit defensive about our parenting style. This is true even when it seems to be working well; but what if our child’s behavior seems particularly challenging? Because we take our responsibility seriously, we may focus on who or what is to blame, rather than on what we can do to improve the situation. We may even wonder whether it can be improved. Is a noncompliant toddler doomed to become a challenging adolescent? Worse, if we have a defiant teenager—one who refuses to comply with requests or follow rules of conduct—do we have any real chance of producing the result we want for him or her?
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Parents' Attitudes about Helping Their Grown Children Affect Their Mental Health

February 24, 2014—Older parents frequently give help to their middle-aged offspring, and their perceptions about giving this help may affect their mental health, according to a team of researchers.
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Study Finds Parental Stress Linked to Obesity in Children


Effects on Hispanic children more pronounced

TORONTO, Dec. 6, 2013—Parental stress is linked to weight gain in children, according to a new study from St. Michael's Hospital. The study found that children whose parents have high levels of stress have a Body Mass Index, or BMI, about 2 per cent higher than those whose parents have low levels of stress. Children with higher parental stress also gained weight at a 7 per cent higher rate during the study period than other children.
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Working Odd Shifts Can Hurt Parent-Child Relationships

December 4, 2013—Research from North Carolina State University shows that working a job that doesn’t keep 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours can hurt the relationships between parents and adolescents, increasing the likelihood that children will engage in delinquent behaviors. However, the researchers found that in some circumstances, an unconventional work schedule can be a benefit for children.
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In Dual-Career Couples, Mothers Still Do the Most Child Care


Moms spend 70 percent of free time on parenting activities

COLUMBUS, OH; November 7, 2013—Even in couples most likely to believe in sharing parenting responsibilities, mothers still bear significantly more of the child care load, a new study reveals.
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Can Putting Your Child before Yourself Make You a Happier Person?


Study explores the correlation between child-centric behavior and parental happiness and fulfillment

Los Angeles, CA; October 31, 2013—While popular media often depicts highly-involved parents negatively in polaristic stereotypes such as helicopter parents or tiger moms, how does placing one's children at the center of family life really affect parental well-being? New research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science finds that parents who prioritize their children's well-being over their own are not only happier, but also derive more meaning in life from their child-rearing responsibilities.
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Parents Greatly Underestimate How Often Their Children are Cyberbullied


30 percent of children admit to being cyberbullied, 15 percent admit to cyberbullying

Washington, DC; October 25, 2013—Cyberbullying has become a destructive force in many children's lives. After multiple suicides by children being cyberbullied, parents, more than ever, need to be aware of their children's online activity. A recent paper published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication found that parents underestimate how often their children engage in risky online behavior, like cyberbullying and viewing pornography.
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Sisters Serve as Confidants, Sources of Support and Mentors During Intimate Conversations


Older sisters could aid prevention efforts aimed at reducing risky sexual behaviors among teen girls

COLUMBIA, MO; October 15, 2013—Adolescence can be an impressionable time for girls as they begin forming ideas about dating and sexuality. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that sisters often take on key roles of confidants, sources of support and mentors during conversations about romantic relationships. Sisters may be helpful in health education efforts to promote safe-sex practices and healthy romantic relationships.
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Increased Life Expectancy Shown Among Family Caregivers


Findings from John Hopkins study contradict long-standing beliefs about caregiver stress

October 15, 2013—Contradicting long-standing conventional wisdom, results of a Johns Hopkins-led analysis of data previously gathered on more than 3,000 family caregivers suggests that those who assist a chronically ill or disabled family member enjoy an 18 percent survival advantage compared to statistically matched non-caregivers.
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Yelling at Teens Found to be Harmful


Harsh verbal discipline may promote problematic behavior rather than minimizing it.

September 4, 2013—Many American parents yell or shout at their teenagers. A new longitudinal study has found that using such harsh verbal discipline in early adolescence can be harmful to teens later. Instead of minimizing teens' problematic behavior, harsh verbal discipline may actually aggravate it.
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Parenting with Social Media Can Help Teens Feel Closer to Parents

July 15, 2013—Parents may not be as savvy with social media as their teenage children, but new research shows they shouldn’t shy away from sending their teen a friend request on Facebook or engaging them on Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms.
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Divorce Early in Childhood Affects Parental Relationships in Adulthood

June 28, 2013—Divorce has a bigger impact on child-parent relationships if it occurs in the first few years of the child's life, according to new research. Those who experience parental divorce early in their childhood tend to have more insecure relationships with their parents as adults than those who experience divorce later, researchers say.

"By studying variation in parental divorce, we are hoping to learn more about how early experiences predict the quality of people's close relationships later in life," says R. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Psychologists are especially interested in childhood experiences, as their impact can extend into adulthood, but studying such early experiences is challenging, as people's memories of particular events vary widely. Parental divorce is a good event to study, he says, as people can accurately report if and when their parents divorced, even if they do not have perfect recollection of the details.
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Babies Witnessing Violence Show Aggression Later in School

June 17, 2013—Aggression in school-age children may sometimes have its origins in children 3 years old and younger who witnessed violence between their mothers and partners, according to a new Case Western Reserve University study.

“People may think children that young are passive and unaware, but they pay attention to what’s happening around them,” said Megan Holmes, assistant professor of social work at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

Between three and 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence each year, according the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence.
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Dad's Life Stress Exposure Can Affect Offspring Brain Development

PHILADELPHIA, PA; June 12, 2013—Sperm doesn't appear to forget anything. Stress felt by dad—whether as a preadolescent or adult—leaves a lasting impression on his sperm that gives sons and daughters a blunted reaction to stress, a response linked to several mental disorders. The findings, published in a new preclinical study in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, point to a never-before-seen epigenetic link to stress-related diseases such as anxiety and depression passed from father to child.
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Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence Not Getting Adequate Mental Health Services

COLUMBIA, MO; June 10, 2013—Although many abused women suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or depression, they are not receiving needed mental health services, a University of Missouri researcher found.
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Poor Parenting—Including Overprotection—Increases Bullying Risk

University of Warwick; April 25, 2013—Children who are exposed to negative parenting—including abuse, neglect but also overprotection—are more likely to experience childhood bullying by their peers, according to a meta-analysis of 70 studies of more than 200,000 children.

The research, led by the University of Warwick and published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, found the effects of poor parenting were stronger for children who are both a victim and perpetrator of bulling (bully-victims) than children who were solely victims.

It found that negative or harsh [authoritarian] parenting was linked to a moderate increase in the risk of being a 'bully-victim' and a small increase in the risk of being a victim of bullying. In contrast, warm but firm [authoritative] parenting reduced the risk of being bullied by peers.

"It is vital we understand more about the factors linked to bullying in order to reduce the burden it places on the affected children and society.
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Arguments in the Home Linked With
Babies’ Brain Functioning

APS; March 25, 2013—Being exposed to arguments between parents is associated with the way babies’ brains process emotional tone of voice, according to a new study to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study, conducted by graduate student Alice Graham with her advisors Phil Fisher and Jennifer Pfeifer of the University of Oregon, found that infants respond to angry tone of voice, even when they’re asleep.

Babies’ brains are highly plastic, allowing them to develop in response to the environments and encounters they experience. But this plasticity comes with a certain degree of vulnerability—research has shown that severe stress, such as maltreatment or institutionalization, can have a significant, negative impact on child development.
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Iowa State Researchers Find Parent-Child Violence
Leads to Teen Dating Violence

AMES, Iowa; March 25, 2013—Teens today are involved in intimate relationships at a much younger age and often have different definitions of what is acceptable behavior in a relationship. Violence is something that is all too common and according to researchers at Iowa State it is a reflection of the relationships teens have with their parents or their parent’s partner.
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Family Dinners Nourish Good Mental Health
in Adolescents

McGill University; March 20, 2013—Regular family suppers contribute to good mental health in adolescents, according to a study co-authored by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Family meal times are a measurable signature of social exchanges in the home that benefit adolescents' well-being—regardless of whether or not they feel they can easily talk to their parents.

The authors suggest that family mealtimes are opportunities for open family interactions which present teaching opportunities for parents to shape coping and positive health behaviors such as good nutritional choices, as well as enable adolescents to express concerns and feel valued, all elements that are conducive to good mental health in adolescents.
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A Positive Family Climate in Adolescence
Is Linked to Marriage Quality in Adult

January 30, 2013—Experiencing a positive family climate as a teenager may be connected to your relationships later in life, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

While research has demonstrated long-term effects of aggression and divorce across generations, the impact of a positive family climate has received less attention. Psychological scientist Robert Ackerman of the University of Texas at Dallas and colleagues wanted to examine whether positive interpersonal behaviors in families might also have long-lasting associations with future relationships.

Greater levels of positive engagement at the family level in adolescence also predicted more relationship satisfaction for both partners.
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Of Course the Tooth Fairy's Real:
How Parents Lie to Children

JAN 21, 2013—Almost everyone teaches their children that lying is always wrong. But the vast majority of parents lie to their children in order to get them to behave, according to new research published in the International Journal of Psychology

The percentage of parents who reported lying to their children for the purpose of getting them to behave appropriately was higher in China (98%) than in the U.S. (84%), but rates for other types of lies were similar between the two countries.  A possible explanation for this difference is that Chinese parents are more likely than in the U.S. to demand compliance from their kids, and will go to greater lengths to make it happen. But are there negative side effects?
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Empathy Breeds Empathy:
An Interview with Kenneth Barish, Ph.D.

Kenneth Barish, Ph.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University. He is also on the faculty of the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and the William Alanson White Institute Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Program.

Using an approach based on the most recent clinical and neuroscience research, Dr. Barish has been working with children and families for over 30 years helping them to resolve the conflicts and arguments that can be a source of distress. In his latest book Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child's Emotions and Solving Family Problems, Dr. Barish brings this research and experience together to offer advice to help parents raise children who not only have a positive self-view but also care about the needs and feelings of others.

In this 2012 interview, Dr. Barish discusses his latest book and explains why it is so crucial for parents to understand children's emotions.
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Why Empathy Is Not Indulgence

In recent years, many parent advisors have expressed concern about contemporary parenting—and about the character of our children. These advisors believe, especially, that most children suffer from over-indulgence. In these discussions, empathy and understanding, which remain the essence of good parenting, have often been given a bad name—and a bum rap. Will empathic parents be more likely to indulge their children—to give in more often than they should to their child’s requests or demands?
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Family Violence: When Home is Not a Haven

January 15, 2010—In a world where even ordinary stress on the job or at school can seem battering at times, and outside influences are in constant flux, home, hearth and family are expected to remain steady—a serene and sheltering haven. Home, they say, is where the heart is. 

Unfortunately for many, home can be anything but a safe haven. Men and women alike may find their home a fierce battleground. For children it may be where they are most vulnerable to assault, misuse or deprivation, ironically at the very hands of those who have a duty to safeguard and nourish them. Even the elderly may have reason to fear those who should be their caretakers.
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Cindy Miller-Perrin: Fighting Family Violence With Family Resilience

Cindy Miller-Perrin received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Washington State University and is currently Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at Pepperdine University. Her research areas include child-clinical psychology, development, and medical/health psychology. She is widely published in the areas of child sexual abuse, prevention, and physiological psychology, and is a co-author of a textbook titled Family Violence Across the Lifespan. She is also teaches a course on Positive Psychology at Pepperdine. In this 2010 interview, Gina Stepp asked Miller-Perrin about family violence from a preventive perspective.
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