Parenting is a partnership, but it can lead to some challenging moments when you don’t see eye-to-eye on a particular parenting style. As tempting as it is to correct or even criticize your spouse’s parenting skills, a new study reveals that maternal gatekeeping about how dads parent can actually have a very negative impact.

Maternal gatekeeping, or the attitude and behavior of moms towards their spouses, can have a big effect on how dads parent. A new study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies from researchers at The Ohio State University found that the more criticism new dads faced about their parenting, the worse their parenting quality was by the time the babies were 9 months old.

The study’s lead author, Lauren Altenburger, explained the findings in a release for OSU: “If fathers feel their partners don’t have confidence in their parenting, they may withdraw and become less positive and sensitive with their child.”

Criticisms as simple as irritated looks could have an impact, so as hard as it is to retain your composure in those early (and very exhausting) days when you’re both still figuring everything out, it’s important to remember that how you treat and talk to your parenting partner can have a long-lasting effect on their ability to parent. That’s not to say you can’t have a meaningful discussion about your differences—but maybe try not to have them at 3 a.m. when the baby is awake and wailing.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Raw Pixel


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