How Couples Play With Dolls Indicates Their Future Parenting Compatibility


A couple’s parenting compatibility can be determined by their playtime with dolls, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University.

The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, asked 200 two-income couples to play with a doll for five minutes. They were told that the doll would represent their upcoming child. After the couple’s actual child was born, researchers compared their role-play parenting with their actual parenting.

Researchers found that the role-play was a surprisingly accurate indicator of future parenting. Spouses who were critical of their partner’s doll parenting were also critical of their real parenting; spouses who encouraged each other during the role-play acted the same with their birth child.

"Even though I believe that the co-parenting relationship begins to develop prior to a child's birth, I had to see it for myself to be convinced," Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, study author and professor at the Ohio State University, said. "It still amazes me that five minutes of play with a doll can predict co-parenting behavior with the real infant one year later."

Couples with less compatible parenting styles weren’t doomed to an unhappy marriage, however. Schoppe-Sullivan specified that parenting and marital satisfaction don’t necessarily intermingle. Indeed, the couples were all asked to fill out a marital satisfaction questionnaire to very that fact.

“The co-parenting and couple relationships are not the same,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

Researchers suggested that early intervention for couples may make co-parenting smoother. They also suggested that effective co-parenting is linked with happier and healthier kids, and additionally to happier marriages.

The study, originally developed in Switzerland, is known as the Lausanne Trilogue Play. Until recently, the concept had not been studied extensively in American co-parenting habits.

Source: Time


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