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Co-parenting includes the ways parents support or undermine their partner's parenting and how parents manage their relationship in the presence of their children, whether in intact or divorced families. The study of co-parenting addresses the question of how interactions between family members affect children's development. Focus is on the mutual investment and engagement of parents in child rearing. Coparenting is somewhat, but not completely, influenced by the quality of the parents' relationship with each other. Through methods including observations of family interactions and parental self-report, researchers study different aspects of co-parenting, including hostility-competition; warmth between parents, responsiveness, and cooperation; communication, conflict, help, and support. Research demonstrates that co-parenting affects children's development during the toddler, preschool, middle childhood, and adolescent years. For example, parents' hostility and competition around child rearing when children are infants is related to children's aggression in preschool. Researchers are studying how coparenting during children's early years sets up patterns of family interactions that affect children's social and emotional functioning over time.


Brody, Gene, Zolinda Stoneman, Trellis Smith, and Nicole Morgan Gibson. "Sibling Relationships in Rural African-American Families."Journal of Marriage and the Family 61 (1999):1046-1057.

McHale, James, and Jeffrey Rasumussen. "Coparental and Family Group-Level Dynamics during Infancy: Early Family Precursors of Child and Family Functioning during Preschool." Development and Psychopathology 10 (1998):39-59.

McHale, James, and P. A. Cowan, eds. Understanding How Family-Level Dynamics Affect Children's Development: Studies of Two-Parent Families. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996.

Amy R. Susman-Stillman

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 2