New family education program aims to support marriage

Author: William G. Gilroy


A new University of Notre Dame family education and research project will seek to teach married couples from throughout Northern Indiana strategies to improve their relationships and help them become better parents.p. Titled “The Happy Couples and Happy Kids Project,” the effort is based on research Notre Dame psychologist E. Mark Cummings has been conducting to determine how marital conflict negatively influences a child’s development.p. “We have been developing a program at Notre Dame for several years that aims to support marriage by educating parents about how to handle conflicts better for the sake of their children,” said Cummings, who holds the Notre Dame Chair in Psychology. “Difficulties in handling marital conflict are a primary reason why marriages fail, and are linked with mental health problems in children and parents.”p. Cummings and his colleagues are looking for couples in Northern Indiana with a child between the ages of 3 and 7 to participate in the research project. Participants will be asked to attend workshops in which they will learn strategies for constructive conflict resolution, parenting and marital communication. The sessions will be held at Notre Dame’s Center for Children and Families, 1602 Ironwood Drive, South Bend, and will last for two to three hours. Couples also will be asked to complete questionnaires in addition to attending the workshops.p. Participants will earn $90 for taking part in the project and free child care is available during each visit to the center.p. The research information gathered during the program will be used to develop a cost-effective, scientifically based preventive resource available to all families in Northern Indiana. Cummings and his researchers also hope to eventually disseminate their strategies for improving marital relations by improving conflict resolution on a national level.p. “We know a lot more about the distinction between constructive and destructive conflict from the children’s perspective, and have shown that constructive conflict may even have beneficial implications for children’s functioning,” Cummings said.p. For more information or to register for the “Happy Couples and Happy Kids Project,” call 574-631-0886.p.

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