Headshot of Mark Feinberg

Mark Feinberg

Research Professor

314 BBH Building
814-865-7375
mef11@psu.edu

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Introduction & Projects

Mark Feinberg, Ph.D., Research Professor in the Prevention Research Center, was one of the first researchers to join the Center in its early days. He conducts basic and applied prevention research on youth, families, and communities, with a particular focus on family-focused prevention. He has made contributions to theory and research in areas such as co-parenting; sibling relationships; the epidemiology of adolescent behavior problems; and the efficacy of evidence-based community prevention initiatives. He has examined the transactions between family and social relationships and biological systems including genetics, cortisol/HPA axis, and cardiovascular disease markers.  Recently, he and colleagues have pursued a line of work examining dynamic models of real-time family interaction.  In addition to basic science, Mark has developed the Family Foundations program (see below), and co-developed prevention programs focused on reducing adverse birth outcomes, childhood obesity, and sibling conflict—all of which have demonstrated positive impacts in randomized trials. He recently led a team that developed a mindfulness-based program to promote the cognitive and emotional health of older adults. His long-standing interest in the community health has led him to lead or participate in evaluations of community-level systems designed to promote evidence-based prevention programs and policies including Communities That Care, Evidence2Success, and PROSPER.  

Family Foundations (FamFound.net) Mark began to develop Family Foundations (FF)--a series of 9 classes for first-time pregnant moms and their partner—15 years ago.  FF was based on the innovative idea that a key foundation for all family relationships, including the well-being of both children and parents, is the quality of co-parenting relations (i.e., how parents support and coordinate with each other). The program has demonstrated positive impacts on a range of outcomes in four trials--including better birth outcomes, lower parent stress and depression, reduced family violence, and better parenting and co-parenting quality.  Two trials have followed families as far out as 7 years after birth, demonstrating positive program benefits for children from infancy (self-regulation), through preschool (social-emotional functioning; mental health), to early elementary school (mental health, disruptive behavior, school adjustment, academic engagement).  A number of U.S. and international collaborators have co-led the creation of a suite of adapted FF versions conveying the core ingredients of FF tailored for parents with various needs and situations. Randomized trials completed or in the field include versions for (1) low-income parents via home-visiting (Ohio); pregnant/parenting teens, delivered through health care centers (D.C.) or as a high school class (TX, MD); couples with a heavy-alcohol-using father (N.Y); military families in an online, self-study version; a family sleep hygiene enhanced version (PA); and a peer-delivered program for couples with a child just diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (SC).  Several other versions are in the pipeline, along with international adaptations and trials.

Outside of work, Mark enjoys swimming, hiking, and yoga, and strives to make time to learn a little mandolin and harmonica.

Prevention-related Projects

Recent Publications

Family vulnerability and disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic: Prospective pathways to child maladjustment

Fosco, G.M., Sloan, C. J., Fang, S., & Feinberg M.E. (2021). Family vulnerability and disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic: Prospective pathways to child maladjustment. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13458

Family vulnerability and disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic: Pathways to child maladjustment

Fosco, G.M., Sloan, C.J., Fang, S., Feinberg, M.E. (In Press). Family Vulnerability and Disruption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Pathways to Child Maladjustment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.  

Predictors of attendance patterns in a universal family-based preventive intervention program

LoBraico, E.J., Fosco, G.M., Feinberg, M.E., Spoth, R. Redmond, C. & Bray, B.C. (In Press). Predictors of Attendance Patterns in a Universal Family-Based Preventive Intervention Program. Journal of Primary Prevention.  

Moderators of friend selection and influence in relation to adolescent alcohol use

Hoeben, E.M., Rulison, K.L., Ragan, D.T., & Feinberg, M.E. (2021). Moderators of friend selection and influence in relation to adolescent alcohol use. Prevention Science, 22 (5), 567-578. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-021-01208-9

Constellations of family risk for long-term adolescent antisocial behavior: A latent profile analysis

LoBraico, E.J., Bray, B.C., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Constellations of Family Risk for Long-Term Adolescent Antisocial Behavior: A Latent Profile Analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 34, 587-597. 

Improving toddler's healthy eating habits and self-regulation: A randomized controlled trial

Nix, R.L., Francis, L.A., Feinberg, M.E., Gill, S., Jones, D.E., Hostetler, M.L., & Stifter, C.A. (2021). Improving toddler's healthy eating habits and self-regulation: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 147(1). Article e20193326. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-3326

Predictors of attendance patterns in a universal family-based preventive intervention program

LoBraico, E.J., Fosco, G.M., Feinberg, M.E., Spoth, R. Redmond, C. & Bray, B.C. (In Press). Predictors of Attendance Patterns in a Universal Family-Based Preventive Intervention Program. Journal of Primary Prevention.  

Family vulnerability, disruption, and chaos predict parent and child COVID-19 health-protective behavior adherence

Fosco, G.M., LoBraico, E.J., Sloan, C.J., Fang, S., Feinberg, M.E. (In Press). Family Vulnerability, Disruption, and Chaos Predict Parent and Child COVID-19 Health-Protective Behavior Adherence. Families, Systems, & Health.  

Designing evidence-based public health and prevention programs: Expert program developers explain the science and art

Feinberg, M. (2020). Designing evidence-based public health and prevention programs: Expert program developers explain the science and art. Routledge.

Intimate partner aggression during the early parenting years: The role of dissatisfaction with division of labor and childcare

Wong, J. D., Marshall, A. D., & Feinberg, M. E. (2021). Intimate partner aggression during the early parenting years: The role of dissatisfaction with division of labor and childcare. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 10(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1037/cfp0000156

Age-varying associations of parental knowledge and antisocial peer behavior with adolescent substance use

Mak, H. W., Russell, M. A., Lanza, S. T., Feinberg, M. E., & Fosco, G. M. (2019). Age-varying associations of parental knowledge and antisocial peer behavior with adolescent substance use. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/dev0000866 PMCID: PMC7195894

Constellations of family risk for long-term adolescent antisocial behavior

LoBraico, E., Bray, B., Feinberg, M., & Fosco, G. (2020, January). Constellations of family risk for adolescent antisocial behavior. Journal of Family Psychology (e-pub ahead of publication).

Constellations of family risk for long-term adolescent antisocial behavior: A latent profile analysis

LoBraico, E.J., Bray, B.C., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Constellations of Family Risk for Long-Term Adolescent Antisocial Behavior: A Latent Profile Analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 34, 587-597. 

Age-varying associations of parental knowledge and antisocial peer behavior with substance use over the course of adolescence

Mak, H.W., Russell, M.A., Lanza, S.T., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Age-Varying Associations of Parental Knowledge and Antisocial Peer Behavior with Substance Use over the Course of Adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 56, 298-311. 

Exploring influence of triadic family relationship profiles on adolescents’ early substance initiation

Xia, M., Weymouth, B., Bray, B.C., Lippold, M. A., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Exploring Influence of Triadic Family Relationship Profiles on Adolescents’ Early Substance Initiation. Prevention Science, 21, 519-529.   

Exploring influence of triadic family relationship profiles on adolescents’ early substance initiation

Xia, M., Weymouth, B., Bray, B.C., Lippold, M. A., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Exploring Influence of Triadic Family Relationship Profiles on Adolescents’ Early Substance Initiation. Prevention Science, 21, 519-529.   

Parents' PTSD symptoms and child abuse potential during the perinatal period: Direct associations and mediation via relationship conflict

Fredman, S. J., Le, Y., Marshall, A. D., Garcia Hernandez, W., Feinberg, M. E., & Ammerman, R. T. (2019). Parents' PTSD symptoms and child abuse potential during the perinatal period: Direct associations and mediation via relationship conflict. Child Abuse and Neglect, 90, 66-75. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.01.024

Age-varying associations of parental knowledge and antisocial peer behavior with substance use over the course of adolescence

Mak, H.W., Russell, M.A., Lanza, S.T., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Age-Varying Associations of Parental Knowledge and Antisocial Peer Behavior with Substance Use over the Course of Adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 56, 298-311. 

Prospective relations between prenatal maternal cortisol and child health outcomes

Roettger, M. E., Schreier, H. M. C., Feinberg, M. E., & Jones. D. E. (2019). Prospective relations between prenatal maternal cortisol and child health outcomes. Psychosomatic Medicine, 81(6), 557-565. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000705. PMID: 31058707

Hostile interactions in the family: What are the patterns and how are they linked to youth externalizing problems?

Glatz, T., Lippold, M.A., Jensen, T.M., Fosco, G.M., & Feinberg, M.E. (2020). Hostile interactions in the family: What are the patterns and how are they linked to youth externalizing problems? Journal of Early Adolescence, 40, 58-82.  

Examining the highs and lows of the collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and prevention implementers

Chilenski, S. M., Welsh, J., Olson, J., Hoffman, L., Perkins, D., & Feinberg, M. E. (2018). Examining the highs and lows of the collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and prevention implementers. Prevention Science, 19, 250-259.

Beliefs about using smartphones for health behavior change: An elicitation study with overweight and obese rural women

Symons Downs, D., Smyth, J. M., Heron, K. E., Feinberg, M. E., Hillemeier, M., & Materia, F. T. (2018). Beliefs about using smartphones for health behavior change: An elicitation study with overweight and obese rural women. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science.

Experimental support for a family systems approach to child development: Multiple mediators of intervention effects across the transition to parenthood

Feinberg, M. E., & Jones, D. E. (2018). Experimental support for a family systems approach to child development: Multiple mediators of intervention effects across the transition to parenthood. Couple and Family Psychology, 7(2), 63-75.

Family and child outcomes 2 years after a transition to parenthood intervention

Jones, D. E., Feinberg, M. E., Hostetler, M. L., Roettger, M. E., Paul, I. J., & Ehrenthal, D. B. (2018). Family and child outcomes 2 years after a transition to parenthood intervention. Family Relations, 67, 270-286. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12309

A dyadic perspective on PTSD symptoms’ associations with couple functioning and parenting stress in first-time parents

Fredman, S. J., Le, Y., Marshall, A. D., Brick, T. R., & Feinberg, M. E. (2017). A dyadic perspective on PTSD symptoms’ associations with couple functioning and parenting stress in first-time parents. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 6, 117–132. doi:10.1037/cfp0000079

Transactions between substance use intervention, the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene, and peer substance use predicting youth alcohol use

Cleveland, H. H., Griffin, A. M., Wolf, P. A., Vandenbergh, D. J., Feinberg, M. E., Schlomer, G. L., Greenberg, M., Spoth, R., & Redmond, C. (2017). Transactions between substance use intervention, the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene, and peer substance use predicting youth alcohol use. Prevention Science, 19(1), 1–12. PMCID: PMC5696096

Parenting stress mediates the association between negative affectivity and harsh parenting: A longitudinal dyadic analysis

Le, Y., Fredman, S. J., & Feinberg, M. E. (2017). Parenting stress mediates the association between negative affectivity and harsh parenting: A longitudinal dyadic analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 31(6), 679–688. PMCID: PMC5607072

Assessing coparenting relationships in daily life: The Daily Coparenting Scale (D-Cop)

McDaniel, B. T., Teti, D. M., & Feinberg, M. E. (2017). Assessing coparenting relationships in daily life: The Daily Coparenting Scale (D-Cop). Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(9), 2396–2411. PMCID: PMC5646838

PROSPER intervention effects on adolescents’ alcohol misuse vary by GABRA2 genotype and age

Russell, M., Schlomer, G. L., Cleveland, H. H., Vandenbergh, D. J., Feinberg, M. E., Greenberg, M. T., Spoth, R., & Redmond, C. (2017). PROSPER intervention effects on adolescents’ alcohol misuse vary by GABRA2 genotype and age. Prevention Science, 19(1), 1–11. PMCID: PMC5552492

Extending previous cGxI findings on 5-HTTLPR's moderation of intervention effects on adolescent substance misuse initiation

Schlomer, G. L., Cleveland, H. H., Feinberg, M. E., Wolf, Pedro S. A., Greenberg, M. T., Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., Tricou, E. P., & Vandenbergh, D. J. (2017). Extending previous cGxI findings on 5-HTTLPR's moderation of intervention effects on adolescent substance misuse initiation. Child Development, 88(6), 2001–2012. PMCID:PMC5422137 

Risk factors for substance misuse and adolescents’ symptoms of depression

Siennick, S. E., Widdowson, A. E., Woessner, M. K., Feinberg, M. E., & Spoth, R. L. (2017). Risk factors for substance misuse and adolescents’ symptoms of depression. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(1), 50–56. PMCID: PMC5182119

PROSPER delivery of universal preventive interventions with young adolescents: Long-term effects on emerging adult substance misuse and associated risk behaviors

Spoth, R., Redmond, C., Shin, C., Greenberg, M. T., Feinberg, M. E., & Trudeau, L. (2017). PROSPER delivery of universal preventive interventions with young adolescents: Long-term effects on emerging adult substance misuse and associated risk behaviors. Psychological Medicine, 47(13), 2246–2259. PMID:28399955

Dynamical systems modeling of couple interaction: A new method for assessing intervention impact across the transition to parenthood

Feinberg, M. E., Xia, M., Fosco, G. M., Heyman, R. E., & Chow, S.-M. (2017). Dynamical systems modeling of couple interaction: A new method for assessing intervention impact across the transition to parenthood. Prevention Science, 18(8), 887–898. PMID:28597177

Nurturant-involved parenting and adolescent substance use: Examining an internalizing pathway through adolescent social anxiety symptoms and substance refusal efficacy

Weymouth, B. B., Fosco, G. M., & Feinberg, M. E. (2017). Nurturant-involved parenting and adolescent substance use: Examining an internalizing pathway through adolescent social anxiety symptoms and substance refusal efficacy. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 1–14. PMID:29212564

The Children, Intimate Relationships, and Conflictual Life Events (CIRCLE) interview for simultaneous measurement of intimate partner and parent to child aggression

Marshall, A. D., Feinberg, M. E., Jones, D. E., & Chote, D. R. (2017). The Children, Intimate Relationships, and Conflictual Life Events (CIRCLE) interview for simultaneous measurement of intimate partner and parent to child aggression. Psychological Assessment, 29(8), 978–989. PMCID: PMC5357592

Drug prevention coalition context and capacity assessment: Comparing the United States and Mexico

Brown, L., Chilenski, S., Ramos, R., Gallegos, N., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Drug prevention coalition context and capacity assessment: Comparing the United States and Mexico. Health Education and Behavior, 43(2), 145-155. doi: 10.1177/1090198115596165

The power of a collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and community prevention teams: A correlational and longitudinal study

Chilenski, S., Perkins, D. F., Olson, J. R., Hoffman, L., Feinberg, M. E., Greenberg, M. T., Welsh, J. A., Crowley, D. M., & Spoth, R. L. (2016). The power of a collaborative relationship between technical assistance providers and community prevention teams: A correlational and longitudinal study. Evaluation and Program Planning, 54(1), 19-29. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2015.10.002

Universal prevention exposure as a moderator of the community context: Findings from the PROSPER project

Chilenski, S., Welsh, J. A., Perkins, D. F., Feinberg, M. E., & Greenberg, M. T. (2016). Universal prevention exposure as a moderator of the community context: Findings from the PROSPER project. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57(12), 819. doi: 00910562

Couple-focused prevention at the transition to parenthood, a randomized trial: Effects on coparenting, parenting, family violence, and parent and child adjustment

Feinberg, M. E., Jones, D. E., Hostetler, M. L., Roettger, M. E., Paul, I. M., & Ehrenthal, D. B. (2016). Couple-focused prevention at the transition to parenthood, a randomized trial: Effects on coparenting, parenting, family violence, and parent and child adjustment. Prevention Science: the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research, 17(6), 751-764. doi: 13894986

Preventive effects on birth outcomes: Buffering impact of maternal stress, depression, and anxiety

Feinberg, M. E., Jones, D. E., Roettger, M. E., Hostetler, M. L., Sakuma, K. L., Paul, I. M., & Ehrenthal, D. B. (2016). Preventive effects on birth outcomes: Buffering impact of maternal stress, depression, and anxiety. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 20(1), 56-65. doi: 10927875

Trajectories of adolescent hostile-aggressive behavior and family climate: Longitudinal implications for young adult romantic relationship competence

Fosco, G.M., Van Ryzin, M., Xia, M., & Feinberg, M.E. (2016). Trajectories of adolescent hostile-aggressive behavior and family climate: Longitudinal implications for young adult romantic relationship competence. Developmental Psychology, 52(7), 1139-1150.

Professional gatekeeping toward fathers: A powerful influence on family and child development

Frascarolo, F., Feinberg, M. E., Sznitman, A., & Favez, N. (2016). Professional gatekeeping toward fathers: A powerful influence on family and child development. World Association for Infant Mental Health, 14.

Friends first? The peer network origins of adolescent dating

Kreager, D. A., Molloy, L. E., Moody, J., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Friends first? The peer network origins of adolescent dating. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26(2), 257-269.

The double standard at sexual debut: Gender, sexual behavior and early adolescent peer acceptance

Kreager, D. A., Staff, J., Gauthier, R., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). The double standard at sexual debut: Gender, sexual behavior and early adolescent peer acceptance. Sex Roles, 75(78), 377-392.

Knowledge lability: Within-person changes in parental knowledge and their associations with adolescent problem behavior

Lippold, M. A., Fosco, G. M., Ram, N., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Knowledge lability: Within-person changes in parental knowledge and their associations with adolescent problem behavior. Prevention Science, 17, 274-283.

Siblings of youth with autism spectrum disorders: Theoretical perspectives on sibling relationships and individual adjustment

McHale, S. M., Updegraff, K. A., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Siblings of youth with autism spectrum disorders: Theoretical perspectives on sibling relationships and individual adjustment. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 589-602.

Family-focused prevention with Latinos: What about sisters and brothers?

Updegraff, K. A., Umana-Taylor, A. J., Rodriguez De Jesus, S. A., McHale, S. M., Feinberg, M. E., & Kuo, S. I. (2016). Family-focused prevention with Latinos: What about sisters and brothers? Journal of Family Psychology, 30(5), 633-640.

Intervention designed to diminish substance use blocks the genetic effect of the Alpha 5 subunit of the nicotinic receptor (CHRNA5) on adolescent smoking

Vandenbergh, D. J., Schlomer, G., Cleveland, H. H., Feinberg, M. E., Greenberg, M. T., Spoth, R., Redmond, C., & Hair, K. (2016, In Press). Intervention designed to diminish substance use blocks the genetic effect of the Alpha 5 subunit of the nicotinic receptor (CHRNA5) on adolescent smoking. Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

An adolescent substance prevention model blocks the effect of CHRNA5 genotype on smoking during high school

Vandenbergh, D. J., Schlomer, G. L., Cleveland, H. H., Schink, A. E., Hair, K. L., Feinberg, M. E., Neiderhiser, J. M., Greenberg, M. T., Spoth, R. L., & Redmond, C. (2016). An adolescent substance prevention model blocks the effect of CHRNA5 genotype on smoking during high school. Nicotine & Tobacco Research: Official Journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 18(2), 212-220. doi: 14622203

Examining reciprocal influences among family climate, school attachment, and academic self-regulation: Implications for school success

Xia, M., Fosco, G. M., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Examining reciprocal influences among family climate, school attachment, and academic self-regulation: Implications for school success. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 442-452.

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COVID-19 pandemic may have increased mental health issues within families

This story was originally published in Penn State News and was also reported in Yahoo! Sports.

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When COVID-19 hits home: Understanding the fight with fear

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The psychology behind sibling rivalry

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New book: Designing Evidence-based Public Health and Prevention Programs

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Video: Penn State prevention researchers respond to COVID-19

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August 11, 2020

Video: Feinberg discusses Family Foundations, successful parenting teamwork with HHD alumni

PRC Research Professor Mark Feinberg shared his expertise in family-focused prevention research with College of Health and Human Development alumni in the July 2 edition of the College’s "HHD on Location: Home Edition" webinars, titled “How Parents Can Team Up to Bring Down Stress, Emotional Problems, and Family Conflict.”  

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From a blog post written by PRC Research Professor Mark Feinberg for the COVID-19 "Expert Insights" blog hosted by the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State.

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April 22, 2020

Researchers to study impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on families

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Since social distancing has been implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, many families are experiencing high levels of stress and conflict — arguments and conflict between parents, between parents and children, and between siblings.

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January 16, 2020

Family Foundations helps support military families expecting their first child

Online training developed at Penn State promotes warmth, nurturing and stability in the family The arrival of a newborn can be stressful for all new parents, but may be especially so for those in the military. On top of sleep deprivation and being responsible for an infant 24 hours a day, military parents can experience the additional stress of deployment, frequent moves and uncertainty about the future.

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September 20, 2018

How winning friends may influence adolescent behaviors

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Adolescents may get by with a little help from their friends, but, according to Penn State researchers, friend selection and friend influence, as well as gender, may all play a role in establishing friendships that can help, or possibly hurt, them.

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August 06, 2018

Well-being of "left behind" children in Kyrgyzstan focus of study

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Growing up can be hard no matter what a family's circumstances, but it is often more so for children living in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia, one of the poorest countries in the world, known for its dry environment, high mountains, nomadic culture and animal-husbandry heritage.

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August 02, 2018

Research by Xia, Feinberg, Fosco featured in July 31 issue of NIH Research Matters

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Parents may help prep kids for healthier, less violent relationships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Warm, nurturing parents may pass along strategies for building and maintaining positive relationships to their kids, setting them up for healthier, less-violent romantic relationships as young adults, according to researchers.

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