'Being a good partner may make you a better parent'

Understanding Couple

A loving partner is likely to be a good parent as well, according to a new study which found that the set of skills we use to care for our partners is the same that we tap to nurture our kids.

UK researchers sought to examine how caregiving plays out in families and how one relationship affects another.

"We wanted to see how romantic relationships between parents might be associated with what kind of parents they are," said lead author, Abigail Millings of the University of Bristol.

Previous research had looked at similar caregiving processes within romantic relationships or between parents and children, but rarely for both groups.

"Our work is the first to look at romantic caregiving and parenting styles at the same time," Millings said.

Looking at 125 couples with children aged 7 to 8 years, the study, carried out at the University of East Anglia, examined a few factors: the way the couples are attached toward each other; the parenting styles they use with their children; and their "caregiving responsiveness".

Caregiving responsiveness is the "capacity to be 'tuned in' to what the other person needs," Millings said.

"In romantic relationships and in parenting, this might mean noticing when the other person has had a bad day, knowing how to cheer them up, and whether they even want cheering up," she said in a statement.

It's not just about picking you up when you're down, it's also about being able to respond appropriately to the good stuff in life, she added.

They found that a common skill set underpins caregiving across different types of relationships, and for both mothers and fathers.

"If you can do responsive caregiving, it seems that you can do it across different relationships," Millings said.

Surprisingly, however, the researchers found that how you care toward your partner does not relate to how your partner behaves as a parent.

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