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Relationship Education Helps Parents be Better Parents – Together
Iowa Ag Connection - 02/09/2018

A good way to protect children is to make sure their parents have a healthy relationship. Whether they are together as a couple or apart, when parents have a healthy relationship with each other, their family is more likely to be stable and their children have a greater opportunity to flourish, says David Brown, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Couples counseling photo by terovesalainen/stock.adobe.comSafe, stable and nurturing relationships between adults may be especially beneficial for parents who experienced abuse or other adversity when they were children, said Brown, who specializes in family life issues.

Adverse childhood experiences, often referred to as ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences can include neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse, as well as challenges such as parental separation or divorce, or the incarceration of a parent or guardian, Brown explained.

“ACES can lead to a variety of lasting health problems and risky behaviors in adulthood, from hypertension and heart disease to smoking and drug use,” Brown said.

However, parents who had their own adverse childhood experiences do not have to repeat the cycle with their children. One key protective factor is a safe, stable and nurturing relationship between parents.

“Parents who experienced harsh parenting as a child, but have a warm, supportive partner who communicates well, are much less likely to respond with harsh parenting to their own children,” Brown said.

“There is this amazing connection between a nurturing couple relationship, positive parenting practices and healthy outcomes for children. This really reinforces the notion that a stable, nurturing adult couple relationship is the foundation for a healthy family,” Brown said.

But maintaining a stable couple relationship takes a lot of effort. Sometimes individuals and couples can benefit from additional support.

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