NCFR Sessions on Coparenting & Divorce


Coparenting:  November 6, 2013 Time:   8:00 pm – 8:45 pm  Ballroom Corridor

Couples That Parent Together, Stay Together

Presented by: Kristy Soloski, Jared Durtschi

Using longitudinal dyadic data (N = 1,291 couples) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we tested if trajectories of coparenting and parental stress differed by those that did and did not dissolve their romantic relationships across the first five years of parenthood. Mothers and fathers that remained intact through the first five years of parenthood indicated higher initial levels of coparenting and greater increases in coparenting overtime. There were no significant differences when comparing the trajectories of parental stress between intact and dissolved relationships in the initial level or rate of change.

Fathers’ Boundary Negotiations in Post-divorce Coparenting Relationships

Presented by: Tyler Jamison, Ashton Chaman, Rachael Doubledee, Richard Feistman, Marilyn Coleman, Lawrence Ganong

Following divorce, parents must renegotiate co-parenting and establish new boundaries that delineate parental responsibilities. This grounded theory study explored 20 fathers’ boundary negotiations in post-divorce co-parenting relationships. Fathers solicited participation and cooperation from their ex-wives to maintain co-parenting relationships and to maximize contact with their children. Fathers were open to their ex-wives’ input about childrearing, and it changed their parenting behaviors. According to these fathers, mothers were not as open to their input and often engaged in restrictive gatekeeping (i.e., limiting access to children). Fathers’ attempts to push back against these closed boundaries yielded mixed results.

Changes in Coparenting Associated With Changes in Relationship Quality

Presented by: Jared Durtschi, Kristy Soloski

The transition to parenthood has been shown to be difficult for some couples. We used longitudinal dyadic data (N = 768 couples) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to test if coparenting and parental stress covaried across time with the trajectories of expected relationship quality for mothers and fathers. Results from a dyadic growth curve model with time-varying covariates suggested that significant shifts in the expected trajectory of relationship quality from when the first child was one year to five years old were associated with reports of change in parents’ coparenting and parental stress scores across time.

Communication Among Parents Who Share Physical Custody After Divorce or Separation

Presented by: Melinda Stafford Markham, Yolanda Mitchell, Jaimee Hartenstein, Ghadir Aljayyousi-Khalil, Denise Thompson

This study produces a grounded theory of how 30 divorced or separated parents experienced communicating with their former partners while sharing physical custody of their children. It was determined that communication, custody arrangement, and relationship with the former partner all influence each other. Five other factors (child, new partner, family background, time, and breakup) influenced the custody arrangement, communication, and relationship. The findings of this study suggest that communication in shared physical custody relationships is dynamic, can vary greatly, and is related to a number of different factors.

Family System’s View of School Readiness: Effects of Parenting, Coparenting, and Intimacy

Presented by: Adam M. Galovan, Erin Kramer Holmes, Jean M. Ispa

Using family systems theory and dyadic multilevel structural equation modeling, we explore the ways in which partner and coparental relationships influence kindergarten school readiness beyond parental provision of felt security. We consider how parenting similarity and couple intimacy may moderate the effect of parenting on school readiness. Moderation analyses suggest that greater coparental similarity in sensitivity allowed for a stronger influence of emotional intimacy on children’s school readiness. Thus, when the relationships most proximal to the child (parent-child relationships) are consistent, the couple relationship seems to have a stronger influence on children’s development of social skills and academic competence.

A Measure of Maternal Gatekeeping

Presented by: Daniel Puhlman, Kay Pasley

Maternal gatekeeping is an important concept that describes how mothers influence the involvement of fathers on children.  A measure accurately depicting a three dimensional conceptualization of this construct has not been tested.  This study tests this three dimensional construct introduced by Puhlman and Pasley (in press) and establishes a valid and reliable measure for mothers and fathers.  The development of this measure allows scholars to further understand the role of maternal gatekeeping as a coparenting construct and its influence on father involvement.

Maternal Gatekeeping and Coparenting: Similar or Distinct?

Presented by: Lauren E. Altenburger, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Claire M. Kamp Dush

The family system is an interdependent network of individuals and subsystems.  The coparenting subsystem emerges across the transition to parenthood and has been defined as the extent to which parents collaborate in childrearing.  Maternal gatekeeping, or mothers’ beliefs and behaviors that may thwart parents’ efforts to share childrearing more equally, also develops during this period.  Both constructs have been linked to father involvement and child development, though they have largely been studied independently.  The current study uses an expanded conceptualization of maternal gatekeeping to examine their relationship, and thus, provide information that can be used to refine measurement.

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