Measuring the impact of family foundations
For the study, Feinberg’s research team surveyed 400 couples who participated in his Family Foundations study 10 years ago and also asked participants to complete eight days of daily reports describing daily changes in stressful events. , mood, sleep, family tension, child behavior, and the use of health protective behaviors to prevent COVID-19 infection.
Previous research has shown that taking Family Foundations classes reduces preterm birth and low birth weight, improves the quality of family relationships and reduces family violence, and improves the mental health of parents and their children during infancy. , early childhood and middle childhood.
Feinberg suggests that the skills parents learn in family foundations can benefit families in times of crisis because strong teamwork helps parents deal with stressors such as job changes, finances, or medical issues – whether these stressors arise during the transition to parenthood or during a pandemic.
Research-based tips for building happier families
Feinberg offers suggestions for building happier families based on his research.
“Look at how you can support your partner in parenting — listen to them, appreciate them, acknowledge the challenges and constraints they face,” Feinberg says. “Excessive arguments and conflict about children and parenting will lead both parents to feel undermined and demoralized. And these negative feelings will lead parents to be less patient, less warm and harsher with children.”
Feinberg added, “Don’t bury frustrations and anger, but don’t let tension and frustrations overwhelm the positive bond and caring between you. Ultimately, that positivity and caring between you will be what will support your own mental health and that of your child’s lifelong well-being and happiness.”
Investing in prevention yields lifelong benefits for parents and children, Feinberg said. He urged policymakers to consider investing more in prevention and public health programs such as family foundations that aim to improve family functioning and resilience.
The research team also included Associate Professor of Health and Human Development Research Jacqueline Mogle, Assistant Professor of Health and Human Development Research Michelle Hostetler, Associate Professor of Health and Human Development Damon Jones, Assistant Professor of Health and Human Development Samantha Tornello, postdoctoral fellow Lindsey Gedaly, research assistant Joseph Cifelli, all of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State; and Jin-Kyung Lee, former postdoctoral fellow at Penn State’s College of Liberal Arts.
The study was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the Social Science Research Institute.