Source of conflict: Study finds factors that can shape divorced mothers' co-parenting experiences
The type of relationship a woman has with her ex-partner is a factor in how the couple shares custody of children, according to a Kansas State University expert on postdivorce and co-parenting relationships.
In a study of divorced or separated mothers sharing physical custody of their children with their former partners, Mindy Markham, assistant professor of family studies and human services on the university's Salina campus, identified three patterns of co-parenting -- continuously contentious, always amicable and bad to better -- as well as negative and positive factors that influenced the mothers' co-parenting relationships.
Markham's study involved 20 predominately white, well-educated women between the ages of 26 to 49 who were divorced or separated from the father of their children. The mothers, from two Midwestern states, shared with their former partners legal and physical custody of the children, who ranged in age from 21 months to 12 years. At the time of the study, the couples had been separated or divorced from six months to 12 years.
"The findings of this study suggest that shared physical custody relationships are dynamic and can vary greatly," Markham said.
Today it is common for both ex-spouses to share legal and physical custody of children after divorcing. But Markham said few studies have looked at the process of co-parenting, so little is known about how divorced parents negotiate the co-parenting process.
In Markham's study, nine mothers had continuously contentious co-parenting relationships with their ex-partners from the time of separation to the present. The negative factors that contributed to this rocky relationship included the mother's perception of her ex's parenting abilities; financial concerns, including the ex not having a job or not paying child support; control or abuse by the ex-partner; and the inability of the ex to separate marital -- or personal -- issues from the co-parenting relationship.
"All mothers in this type of co-parenting relationship reported differences in parenting styles and were concerned with how the ex was raising the children," Markham said. "Parenting practices that concerned the mothers varied greatly and included putting children in harmful situations, not bathing the children, not disciplining them and having no rules or routines. It was especially difficult for these mothers to share custody with ex-partners who were uninvolved during the marriage. They didn't believe their exes were responsible parents."
Markham said eight of the women in the continuously contentious relationships didn't want to share custody of the children with their ex-partner, but most were told by lawyers or the court that they would have to do so.
Four mothers in the study had amicable co-parenting relationships, where they reported always getting along with their ex-partners from separation to the present. The positive factors that affected these relationships were that the mothers believed their ex-partners were responsible parents, money wasn't a source of conflict and the mothers chose to share physical custody.
Seven of the mothers in the study had bad-to-better co-parenting relationships, where co-parenting was contentious at the time of separation, but greatly improved over time. At the time of the study, these women's relationships were similar to those of women with always amicable relationships. These mothers wanted to share physical custody, thought the father was a responsible parent and most said money was not a source of conflict.
But all mothers in bad-to-better relationships said they were unable to co-parent amicably with their ex-partner in the beginning because personal issues were not kept separate from parenting responsibility.
"Although ex-partners with bad-to-better relationships originally allowed their feelings about one another to negatively affect their co-parenting, at some point they realized this was not beneficial and made a conscious effort to change the relationship for the sake of their children," Markham said.
Communication with the ex-partner also played a role in the co-parenting relationship. In the always amicable and bad-to-better relationships, mothers were able to communicate well with ex-partners. These mothers said this made discussing differences in parenting styles easier.
But for women in continuously contentious relationships, lack of communication was a big issue, Markham said. These mothers limited direct in-person or phone communication with their ex, preferring alternative methods like texting or email. They also avoided seeing their ex in person when it came time to exchange children by having them picked up at day care or school.
Markham said she was surprised by the level of animosity that accompanies shared custody, at least from some mothers' perceptions.
"Nearly half of the mothers in this study continue to have conflicted relationships with their ex-partners, and conversations with these women negate the notion that shared physical custody ensures cooperative, less conflicted relationships," she said. "This study can be important for helping professionals recognize that shared physical custody is not a panacea for postdivorce problems -- and that in some cases it exacerbates them."
Markham initiated the study as part of her dissertation work at the University of Missouri. A paper she co-wrote based on a secondary analysis of her dissertation and another grounded theory conducted at Missouri was published recently in the journal Family Relations. A second paper, co-written with her major professor, Marilyn Coleman, Curators professor and director of graduate studies for human develop and family studies at Missouri, is pending publication.
Provided by Kansas State University
- Are feminism and attachment parenting practices compatible? Jun 11, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- The parenthood paradox: Certain parenting beliefs are detrimental to mothers' mental health Jul 05, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Violent relationships likely detrimental to good parenting Mar 02, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Mom goes back to work, family OK Aug 29, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Unintended pregnancy predicts feelings that parenting is a burden Jul 23, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
12 hours ago Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
A brief visual task can predict IQ, according to a new study. This surprisingly simple exercise measures the brain's unconscious ability to filter out visual movement. The study shows that individuals whose ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 4 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (5) | 0 |
Nervous about that upcoming job interview? You might want to take steps to reduce your jitters, especially if you are a man.
Psychology & Psychiatry 5 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Research by U of T Mississauga psychology professor Glenn Schellenberg reveals that two key personality traits – openness-to-experience and conscientiousness—predict better than IQ ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 7 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Parents naturally are concerned for their children's safety, particularly when there is news of a child abduction that happens close to home. Finding the balance between emotions and the "teachable moment" as parents talk ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A new report on suicide in Ireland shows that suicide cases experienced a significant number (and intensity) of life events in the 6 months prior to their death.
Psychology & Psychiatry 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Ethnic background plays a surprisingly large role in how diabetes develops on a cellular level, according to two new studies led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
20 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Cinnamon: Can the red-brown spice with the unmistakable fragrance and variety of uses offer an important benefit? The common baking spice might hold the key to delaying the onset of –– or warding off ...
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Chinese and U.S. scientists have used virus isolated from a person who died from H7N9 avian influenza infection to determine whether the virus could infect and be transmitted between ferrets. Ferrets are often used as a mammalian ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
By discovering the new mechanism by which estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis in the liver, UC Irvine endocrinologists have revealed a potential new approach toward treating certain liver diseases.
42 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
UCLA researchers examining outcomes for advanced heart-failure patients over the past two decades have found that, coinciding with the increased availability and use of new therapies, overall mortality has decreased and sudden ...
46 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Aortic arch pulse wave velocity, a measure of arterial stiffness, is a strong independent predictor of disease of the vessels that supply blood to the brain, according to a new study published in the June issue the journal ...
47 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0