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A five-minute role-play session with a doll shortly before the birth of a couple’s first child predicted the quality of fathers’ later parenting skills, reports a study in the Journal of Family Psychology. Researchers videotaped 182 expectant U.S. fathers during the third trimester of their partners’ pregnancies as the men interacted with a doll they were told represented their baby. Trained observers rated the fathers’ painting skills–including talking directly to their baby’s face, using baby talk and smiling and showing concern for the baby’s well-being. These ratings accurately predicted ratings of the fathers’ behaviors toward their babies at age 9 months, even after taking into account the baby’s temperament, the father’s personality traits and the quality of the father’s co-parenting relationship with the mother. (Monitor on Psychology)

Susie Bean Gives