Good marriage equals good parents?

17 posts / 0 new
Last post
Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780
Good marriage equals good parents?

If your partner is sensitive, cooperative and supportive, congratulations: He or she will probably be a good parent.
The same skills that make people successful romantic partners also make them good parents, a new study finds. The research shows that people who are insecure in theirromantic relationships are more likely to use less-than-ideal parenting styles.
"If you can do responsive care-giving, it seems that you can do it across different relationships," study researcher Abigail Millings of the University of Bristol said in a statement. Responsive care-giving includes being cooperative without being bossy, noticing your romantic partner's needs and supporting them.
Attachment and anxiety
Millings and her colleagues focused on attachment, a psychological concept that describes people's relationships to one another. Someone with attachment avoidance, for example, puts up barriers and denies the need to be close to their partner. Someone with attachment anxiety, on the other hand, would be clingy and insecure in their relationship, constantly sure that they'll be abandoned.
The ideal model is a secure attachment, which is low in both anxiety and avoidance. Securely attached people are free to be independent in their relationships, but also feel sure the other person will be there for them.
Because families are dynamic mixes of relationships, Millings and her colleagues wanted to know if parents' attachment to each other would affect their parenting styles with their children. Previous research has shown that attachment avoidance and anxiety are linked with more fear about parenting, as well as parenting struggles. An anxiously attached mom or dad might have trouble letting their child explore the world independently, for example. An avoidant parent might come across as cold or distant.
The researchers asked 125 English couples with kids ages 7 to 8 to fill out surveys about their romantic attachment to their partners, their romantic care-giving and their parenting styles. Psychologists break parenting styles into three broad categories: Authoritarian, which is marked by an old-school "spare the rod and spoil the child" attitude in which strict discipline is best way to raise a kid; permissive, which sets few boundaries; and authoritative, which involves setting boundaries in a warm and loving environment. [10 Scientific Tips for Raising Happy Kids]
Partnering and parenting
Authoritative parenting is considered ideal, because it has been linked with better mental health and more success for kids. And sure enough, the study found that when parents were more avoidant or anxious in their own romantic relationships, they were less likely to deploy authoritative parenting.
The level of romantic care-giving in the parental relationship drove the link between romance and parenting, the researchers reported online Dec. 6 in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Avoidant and anxious parents took less care of each other, showing less cooperation and less sensitivity to each other's moods and needs. This lack of care-giving, in turn, was linked to a greater propensity for authoritarian or permissive parenting, and lower likelihood of the ideal authoritative style.
"It might be the case that practicing being sensitive and responsive ? for example, by really listening and by really thinking about the other person's perspective ? to our partners will also help us to improve these skills with our kids," Millings said in the statement. "But we need to do more research to see whether the association can actually be used in this way."
The researchers next plan to explore how care-giving and parenting relate in familieswithout a two-parent structure. Single parents can, after all, have great relationships with their kids without having a spouse. But if improving one type of relationship does spill over and improve other types of relationships, the findings could be important in designing counseling or self-help treatments, the researchers said.

From Huffpo Parents Good Parents And Successful Romantic Partners Have The Same Qualities (STUDY)

Do you buy this theory? WHy or why not? Can you have an "unattached" marriage and be great parents as a unit? Can you, say, model a moderately unhealthy or anxious relationship with a spouse but raise children together who are secure and attached and who have healthy boundaries and relationships with you, their father, and others?

(As the research hasn't yet been done on single parents I apologize for not having debate questions geared towards that dynamic, but if you have a theory on that feel free to throw it into the mix)

Bolding is mine.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

The theory makes sense to me. I've never really thought about it in terms of general attachment style (meaning, if I am anxious or avoidant in one relationship, I am more likely to be anxious or avoidant in others) but that does make sense.

I've always thought about it more in terms of creating a stable environment and foundation for your kids. I think if you're constantly arguing or avoiding one another, kids pick up on that and are less likely to feel secure at home.

Also I think that people in general tend to handle things more poorly when they are really stressed. For example, I know that when I am super stressed about something, I tend to have less patience with DS and I don't listen as well. If I were chronically stressed out because of my home life, I would present that face to him more often, and it's definitely not my parenting A game.

Finally, I think that kids learn about how to conduct relationships by watching us. If I am chronically cold and distant, my kids may not learn how to express their feelings towards others, or if I am constantly needing reassurance about my relationships, my kids may learn that you shouldn't trust people to be there for you when you need them. Whereas if they witness me having easy and happy relationships, they may well learn to have easy and low stress relationships by example.

So yes, the theory makes sense to me all around.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

It makes sense in a way to me, but I wonder, how were these relationships BEFORE kids? Maybe there is something about your relationship surviving parenting, and not necessarily how the relationship was pre-kids.

There seems to be too many outside variables for me to agree with the first statement in the article. But I could agree that these too things seem to reasonably go together, just not that one causes the other Smile

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

I think a good marriage is wonderful for parents, but I know there are wonderful parents that are not married or not in the best marriage. I doubt anyone out there has the perfect marriage. That does not mean you can not be a good parent. Arguments can be kept in the bedroom. You can still be united on parenting, even if your marriage is rocky. It can also be a good example on how to be nice to someone who can be hard to get along with. How to resolve differences in a peaceful way.

Now screaming and throwing things at each other in front of the kids is not going to inspire them to have healthy relationships, but I do not feel it is necessary to do that even in a rocky relationship.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I agree and I don't. I think it is possible to have an insecure relationship with your spouse without that being your normal relationship style and be an awesome parent. Generally though, it makes sense that if you avoid a lot of relationships it will make a negative impact on your parenting style. If I'm cold and distant to my spouse, parents, siblings etc..I'm probably going to be cold and distant to my kids and my kids will feel insecure...they may react in a negative way and my response will probably be more authoritarian.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The theory makes sense to me. I've never really thought about it in terms of general attachment style (meaning, if I am anxious or avoidant in one relationship, I am more likely to be anxious or avoidant in others) but that does make sense.

I've always thought about it more in terms of creating a stable environment and foundation for your kids. I think if you're constantly arguing or avoiding one another, kids pick up on that and are less likely to feel secure at home.

Also I think that people in general tend to handle things more poorly when they are really stressed. For example, I know that when I am super stressed about something, I tend to have less patience with DS and I don't listen as well. If I were chronically stressed out because of my home life, I would present that face to him more often, and it's definitely not my parenting A game.

Finally, I think that kids learn about how to conduct relationships by watching us. If I am chronically cold and distant, my kids may not learn how to express their feelings towards others, or if I am constantly needing reassurance about my relationships, my kids may learn that you shouldn't trust people to be there for you when you need them. Whereas if they witness me having easy and happy relationships, they may well learn to have easy and low stress relationships by example.

So yes, the theory makes sense to me all around.

ITA with every word of this. :thumbsup:

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I agree with this to a certain extent, but I also do not believe it is possible to really define what a "good parent" is, or what a "good marriage" is.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

I also want to add that I don't think it it's necessary (or even possible!) to have a perfect marriage or to be a perfect parent. I think that all marriages have strengths and weaknesses, as do all parents. My thought is more that if you are raising your kids in a fairly loving and stable home, that is one less stressor. It doesn't guarantee that you are a good parent (and the lack of it doesn't mean you're a bad parent); it's just kind of one less thing to worry about. If that makes sense.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Yeah, I don't think that it has anything to do with perfect, in fact, those caught up on perfect would probably be unhealthy.

I think that it makes a lot of sense. Basically it has to do with boundaries to me ~ if you have a healthy self image/healthy relationships you can make healthy boundaries and enforce healthy boundaries and mirror healthy relationships to your children. Of course the most important would be the most primary ~ that with your spouse, but I would think to some degree all relationships, siblings, girlfriends, parents, etc would have some impact.

SID081108's picture
Joined: 06/03/09
Posts: 1348

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

The theory makes sense to me. I've never really thought about it in terms of general attachment style (meaning, if I am anxious or avoidant in one relationship, I am more likely to be anxious or avoidant in others) but that does make sense.

I've always thought about it more in terms of creating a stable environment and foundation for your kids. I think if you're constantly arguing or avoiding one another, kids pick up on that and are less likely to feel secure at home.

Also I think that people in general tend to handle things more poorly when they are really stressed. For example, I know that when I am super stressed about something, I tend to have less patience with DS and I don't listen as well. If I were chronically stressed out because of my home life, I would present that face to him more often, and it's definitely not my parenting A game.

Finally, I think that kids learn about how to conduct relationships by watching us. If I am chronically cold and distant, my kids may not learn how to express their feelings towards others, or if I am constantly needing reassurance about my relationships, my kids may learn that you shouldn't trust people to be there for you when you need them. Whereas if they witness me having easy and happy relationships, they may well learn to have easy and low stress relationships by example.

So yes, the theory makes sense to me all around.

I totally agree with this as well. I do think that kids need to see parents being real. My husband used to never want our kids to see us argue/disagree, like at all. That bothered me. I want my kids to see our relationship as it is, not just the good side. I agree major disagreements should be kept in the bedroom, but healthy disagreements can be played out in front of the kids where they can see that conflict exists between two people that love each other and how it can be resolved in a respectful manner (I'm always working on that respectful part) Wink And sometimes I catch my 4-year old talking to my husband in a way that I KNOW she got from me (disrespectful, I guess you would say) and it's a teaching opportunity for me to tell her that mommy was wrong, I shouldn't have talked to daddy that way and neither should she. I don't think it's good for kids to see their parent's relationship as perfect, but I do think it's good for them to see it as normal and healthy.

I think there are plenty of ways for single parents to teach their kids these same lessons in their relationships with other people.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

I know good parents who are bad relationship partners, and good relationship partners who are not particularly good parents. I never really connect to these types of studies.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

In my mind I keep coming back to the definition of good.. does it mean healthy or happy? If Healthy then yes they would make good parents... if happy not necessarily.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I know good parents who are bad relationship partners, and good relationship partners who are not particularly good parents. I never really connect to these types of studies.

The only person who can say, "You were a good parent," is the child. I'd be willing to bet that *most* people think they are good parents, but would their grown-up kids agree? I can't see how you can be a "bad relationship partner" and *not* have that negativity and stress and disrespect carry over into your parenting. I'd like to hear an example.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

"Spacers" wrote:

The only person who can say, "You were a good parent," is the child. I'd be willing to bet that *most* people think they are good parents, but would their grown-up kids agree? I can't see how you can be a "bad relationship partner" and *not* have that negativity and stress and disrespect carry over into your parenting. I'd like to hear an example.

I know of people that are divorced or not in a wonderful marriage, can't stand the parent of their child, and are still wonderful parents and their grown children think they are wonderful parents.

An example - I had an Aunt and Uncle who went through a terrible divorce. Throwing things, screaming, terrible custody battle and the whole 9 yards. They both are deceased now (One from breast cancer and one from a motorcycle accident). I saw my grown cousin recently and she went on and on about her dad and how he was the best dad anyone could ever have had. I also have very fond memories of visiting their house. It was one of my favorite places to visit.

I more equate a "good" parent vs. a "bad" parent by how well their children turn out (Law abiding people that are happy and functioning in society), not by how much their kids like them.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I know of people that are divorced or not in a wonderful marriage, can't stand the parent of their child, and are still wonderful parents and their grown children think they are wonderful parents.

An example - I had an Aunt and Uncle who went through a terrible divorce. Throwing things, screaming, terrible custody battle and the whole 9 yards. They both are deceased now (One from breast cancer and one from a motorcycle accident). I saw my grown cousin recently and she went on and on about her dad and how he was the best dad anyone could ever have had. I also have very fond memories of visiting their house. It was one of my favorite places to visit.

I more equate a "good" parent vs. a "bad" parent by how well their children turn out (Law abiding people that are happy and functioning in society), not by how much their kids like them.

This actually brings up a whole nother issue... Of course you can be a horrible parent and your child will turn out wonderfully. Or you can be a wonderful parent and you can have a horrible child..

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

An example - I had an Aunt and Uncle who went through a terrible divorce. Throwing things, screaming, terrible custody battle and the whole 9 yards. They both are deceased now (One from breast cancer and one from a motorcycle accident). I saw my grown cousin recently and she went on and on about her dad and how he was the best dad anyone could ever have had. I also have very fond memories of visiting their house. It was one of my favorite places to visit.

Or perhaps your cousin is suffering from "survivor's guilt" and glossing over the bad memories since she doesn't have the chance to make new memories with them. I simply can't see how parents throwing things, screaming, fighting over custody, etc. could be a positive influence in a child's life. Could they have been better parents after the divorce? Probably, but it's very hard to make up for negative years IMHO.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"Spacers" wrote:

The only person who can say, "You were a good parent," is the child. I'd be willing to bet that *most* people think they are good parents, but would their grown-up kids agree? I can't see how you can be a "bad relationship partner" and *not* have that negativity and stress and disrespect carry over into your parenting. I'd like to hear an example.

I disagree. If you know a family intimately, you can tell if the parents are good parents or not.

You can also be not a good relationship partner but not have it be about disrespect or negativity.

I know parents who get so caught up in parenting that they neglect their relationship, even when it's brought to their attention. No time alone for the parents because one of them stops seeing the need, and focuses only on the kids and the family.

I also don't think you can judge by how the kids turn out -- as has already been pointed out, sometimes good parents raise rotten kids and rotten parents raise good ones. You'll see two kids from the same family, raised the same way, and one turns out great and the other is a mess.