Researchers in the US have recently looked at how concerns about parenting behaviour can affect the ability of divorced parents to co-parent.

The study, from the University of Missouri, found that fathers and mothers have differing concerns about co-parenting, and these concerns can impact on their ability to jointly raise their children. The researchers believe that gaining a better understanding of these concerns and how to alleviate them will enable professionals to develop better support programmes for divorced parents, which will ultimately be to the benefit of their children.

The researchers found that fathers’ parenting behaviours were most affected by financial and legal concerns, particularly with regards to child support payments they believe to be unfair or excessive. On the other hand, a mother’s co-parenting behaviour is more influenced by concerns about their ex-spouse’s suitability to be a parent.

The researchers suggest that these findings could be of use to family professionals who provide support to divorced or separated parents.

For example, fathers may feel more positive about paying child support when it is shown to them how these payments lead to a direct benefit for their children, and when they themselves are more financially secure. Professionals could help address a mother’s concerns about the father’s parenting ability by helping fathers to develop effective parenting skills and demonstrate this capability to their ex-spouse.

However, the researchers did acknowledge that to reduce children’s exposure to conflict, it may sometimes be necessary to suggest reducing contact between ex-spouses.

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