College of Education and Human Development opens Parenting Relationships Research Lab

Being a parent is a dynamic and complex part of life. A new initiative in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Maine aims to build knowledge about the relationships at the center of the parenting experience.

The Parenting Relationships Research Lab was created by assistant professor of family studies Daniel Puhlman, whose research explores co-parenting and fathering. The lab will focus on all relationships involved in parenting, especially parents’ relationship with their children and parents’ relationships with each other, but also grandparents, extended family members, teachers and other caregivers.

“We know that when parents have strong and healthy relationships with those around them, especially immediate family, children benefit and grow to be happy and healthy adults,” Puhlman says.

The Parenting Relationships Research Lab in 229 Merrill Hall will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, email Puhlman,

Puhlman currently is researching how parents experience gatekeeping behavior from their partners and the impact it has on those relationships. Another project aims to understand how professionals who work with children and families, such as lawyers, judges, guardians and counselors, view the needs of high-conflict co-parents.

Besides serving as a home for Puhlman’s research, the lab will be a center for community outreach. It is collaborating with Scarborough-based Kids First, which provides support to families experiencing divorce and separation, on program evaluation and the development of an app for the agency and its clients.

Puhlman has recruited a team of six undergraduate and graduate students to assist with research and outreach at the lab. UMaine students can earn course credit through either field experience or independent study as part of the lab’s work.

“We want to work with community organizations and agencies that are interested in using research to develop programming that supports healthy parenting relationships,” says Puhlman, a trained marriage and family therapist.