Want To See How Good A Parent You'll Be? Play With Dolls

Want to know how good a parent you'll be?

Play with dolls.

Not just any dolls but ones that having expectant parents role-play interacting with an infant using a doll can help predict which couples may be headed for co-parenting conflicts when their baby arrives, newswise.com reports.

Researchers videotaped 182 couples in the third trimester of pregnancy while they played with a doll that they were told represented the baby they were about to have. Researchers analyzed how the couple interacted with each other around the doll.

The couples were videotaped again nine months after the birth of their baby to see how they actually played together.

Results showed that couples acted as similarly toward each other with the real baby as they did with the doll – in both positive and negative ways.

“The extent to which couples support or undermine each other’s interactions with the doll predicts their co-parenting behavior a year later,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.  “We saw the same kinds of behaviors between parents when they were interacting with their baby that we saw a year earlier with the doll.”

Schoppe-Sullivan said this particular procedure using dolls with expectant parents has rarely if ever been used in the United States (it was developed by researchers in Switzerland).
“When people first hear about it, many think it is strange. They think it is silly to have adults play with dolls,” she said.  “But couples in our study responded positively to the activity. They were able to take it seriously and it really does predict how they will co-parent.”

Lead author Lauren Altenburger, a doctoral student in human sciences at Ohio State, said the results have important implications.  “Co-parenting has consistently been linked to child outcomes. When parents fight and undermine each other’s parenting, the child suffers,” she said.  “If we can identify couples who may have



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