Margaret KerrAssistant Professor

My work focuses on examining emotional experiences in the context of parenthood. More specifically, I explore factors that influence how adults perceive and experience parenting, including attachment, relationship quality, and socioeconomic status. I am particularly interested in understanding in-the-moment emotional experiences of parents and the impact those experiences have on children. I also work on brief interventions, such as relational savoring, that support parents’ well-being by helping them to identify and relish moments of positive connection with their children. My ultimate goal is to promote family resiliency through developing and implementing parent-focused interventions that improve parents’ experiences and parent-child relationships.

Recent press

How the pandemic has upended the lives of working parents, The Economist, May 22, 2021

Women Are Taking A Bigger Hit During The Pandemic, Wisconsin Public Radio, December 23, 2020

The Highs Ands Lows Of Parenting In A Pandemic, Wisconsin Public Radio, October 1, 2020

Tips on how to stay positive right now, NBC 26, September 30, 2020

Dad Bods and Dad Brains: The New Science of Fatherhood, Fatherly, December 27, 2018

Select publications

For a full list of publications, see Dr. Kerr’s CV.

Kerr, M. L., Fanning, K. A., Huynh, T., Botto, I., Kim, C. N. (2021). Parents’ self-reported psychological impacts of COVID-19: Associations with parental burnout, child behavior, and income, 46(10), 1162-1171. Journal of Pediatric Psychology

Kerr, M. L., Fanning, K., Grendziak, A., Buttitta, K. V., Rasmussen, H. F., Smiley, P. A., & Borelli, J. L. (2021). Fathers’ emotional experiences while parenting toddlers: A qualitative exploration. Early Child Development & Care. Advance online publication.

Kerr, M. L., Rasmussen, H. F., Fanning, K. A., & Braaten, S. M.* (2021). Parenting during COVID-19: A study of parents’ experiences across gender and income levels. Family Relations

Kerr, M. L., Rasmussen, H. F., Smiley, P. A, Buttitta, K. V., & Borelli, J. L. (2021). The development of toddlers’ emotion regulation within the family system: Associations with mothers’ and fathers’ observed parenting and interparental relationship satisfaction. Early Childhood Research Quarterly57, 215-227.

Kerr, M. L., Rasmussen, H. F. , Smiley, P. A., Fanning, K. A., Buttitta, K. V., Benson, L. & Borelli, J. L. (2021). Within- and between-family differences in mothers’ guilt and shame: Caregiving, coparenting, and attachment. Journal of Family Psychology, 35(3), 265-275

Kerr, M. L., Rasmussen, H. F., Borelli, J. L., Buttitta, K. V., & Smiley, P. A. (2021). Exploring the complexity of mothers’ real-time emotions while caregiving. Emotion. 21(3), 545–556.

Classes Taught

  • Course number: HDFS 818: Course title: Attachment and Relationships Across the Lifespan
  • Course number: HDFS 865: Course title: Family Theory
Professional portrait of Margaret Kerr in front of a decorative window with bright colored glass circles and curved lines.


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • BS Human Development & Family Studies
  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development and Family Studies



  • PhD and MA, Positive Developmental Psychology, Claremont Graduate University
  • BS, Psychology, Michigan State University


Office: 4109 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-890-4654



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