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A Caring Partner Makes a Good Parent Too, Study Finds

Update Date: Dec 09, 2012 03:56 AM EST

For all those people who are on the lookout for a life partner, here is something useful for you. If your girlfriend or boyfriend is really good as a partner and is really caring toward you, you can be sure that they are also going to make a wonderful parent for your child too. A new research reveals that the same set of skills that makes us a good partner, is what we use to nurture our children too.

The study aimed at examining how caregiving works out in families. The researchers wanted to check how one relationship in the family affects another.

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

Studies have been conducted previously examining caregiving between 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 says.

For the study, researchers studied and analyzed 125 subjects, all of whose children were aged between 7 and 8. In the study, the researchers aimed at examining how couples are attached toward each other, the parenting styles used by them and their "caregiving responsiveness."

Caregiving responsiveness is the "capacity to be 'tuned in' to what the other person needs," Millings says, according to Medical Xpress.

"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." And, she says, 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."

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

However, the researchers found no link between the care you give your partner and their parenting behavior. Also, the research could not determine the cause behind this link between being a partner leading one to be a good parent (or if it's the other way around).

It is possible 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 says.

"But we need to do more research to see whether the association can actually be used in this way."

She also points out that parents can have a great relationship with their children without having a partner and she wants to further explore parenting in other family structures.

If it is found that caregiving responsiveness in one relationship improves another relationship, it may be possible to use this idea to design a self-help program that enables people to improve their own relationships, the report said.

The research was published online this week in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 

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