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UMaine Unveils New Center To Study The Science Of Parenting

Malte Mueller
Getty Images via NPR

The University of Maine has unveiled a new center, dedicated to the science of parenting.

"Basically what we're doing is we're processing data, we're having lab meetings where we're talking about research studies, we're doing collaborative work. So it's really a think tank, so to speak," says Daniel Puhlman. The Parenting Relationships Research Lab is the brainchild of Puhlman, a family studies professor.

"I really want to connect parents and practitioners to research," Puhlman says.

Puhlman says the parenting lab will start off as a resource for anyone who wants to know about current parenting research, but eventually, he hopes to use the space for observational studies.

One such field he is hoping to focus on is co-parenting, in which parents — or a parent and/or grandparent or sibling — must work together to raise a child.

"Kind of see how they engage with one another around child rearing,” he says. “There's some observational work that's being done, but, you know, advancing that, and doing more of that would be really helpful to the field."

The lab is also partnering with the Kids First Center in Scarborough, to assist staff there in ways to serve families affected by divorce, separation, and high conflict situations at home.

The lab will also serve as the center for Puhlman's own research into how behaviors from one parent affect the other parent's relationship with the child, as well as another project studying how lawyers, judges, counselors and other professionals view the needs of parents going through divorce and conflict.

A team of six undergraduate and graduate students will earn course credit and assist with the research and outreach at the lab.

Originally published Nov. 9, 2019 at 2:16 p.m. ET.