Violent relationships during pregnancy 'may be harmful for good parenting'
Couples who are married or living together will probably have more trouble parenting as a team if they have been violent towards one another during pregnancy, a new study has claimed.
For the study, a team of psychologists interviewed 156 expectant couples at three different times, once before the baby was born, again about six months after the birth of the child and a final time, when the baby was approximately 13 months old.
"This finding is helpful because working as a parenting team, in what we call the co-parenting relationship, is a key influence on everything from mothers' postpartum depression to sensitive parenting to the children's emotional and social adjustment," Mark E. Feinberg, research professor, Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State, said.
The interviews determined the degree of physical violence between couples prior to the birth of the baby and how well couples were able to act as a team while parenting, after the baby was born.
"The results suggest that working with couples to curtail or prevent violence in their relationships before the birth of their child may have positive implications for the development of co-parenting relationships after the child is born," the researchers said.
The researchers reported that 29.8 percent of mothers acted violently at least once in the past year, while 17.3 percent of fathers acted violently. Finding mothers to be more violent than fathers is not an uncommon discovery in average community samples, according to the researchers.
"In our sample it seemed to be the 'common couple' type of violence that occurred, not the controlling and severe abuse that people think of when they think of domestic violence," Marni L. Kan, now a research psychologist with RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C, said.
According to Feinberg, common couple violence incidents are fairly high, especially for couples with young children.