Psychology ETDs

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Coparenting has been found to impact all facets of family functioning, including child and parent adjustment, parenting, and even the interparental relationship itself, and, like many family processes, it can be significantly disrupted by interparental conflict. Interparental aggression, the extreme negative pole of conflict, has previously been found to adversely affect many parts of the family system, such as child and parent adjustment and the parent-child relationship. Yet, there is a paucity of research investigating the impact of interparental aggression on the coparenting relationship. The present study investigated coparenting processes among parents displaying mutual, situation-specific aggression in a civil court-mandated sample. One hundred and one parents (55 mothers, 46 fathers) completed measures on interpersonal conflict, personality characteristics, parenting, and the coparenting relationship. Stepwise regression analyses indicated that, for mothers, maternal report of fathers use of negotiation and mothers' self-reported use of physical aggression were positively related, and fathers' use of psychological aggression negatively related, to perceived coparenting quality. For fathers, paternal report of mothers' use of psychological aggression negatively related to perceived coparenting quality. Report of the other parent's use of psychological aggression predicted the most variance in perceptions of coparenting relationship quality for both mothers and fathers. Parental personality characteristics were not significantly associated with coparenting or parenting styles. Lastly, among a set of parental dyads (n = 29), both mothers and fathers viewed themselves as more authoritative and less authoritarian than the other parent and were also 'inaccurate' (i.e., divergent from other parent) in reporting the other parent's relative level of authoritative parenting. In conclusion, among mutually aggressive parents, reported use of constructive and destructive conflict resolution tactics in the interparental relationship significantly impacted the perceived quality of the coparenting relationship. Additional research is needed to further investigate the differential impact that type of interparental aggression can have on coparenting dynamics and parent and child outcomes in both non-forensic and forensic populations. The present study also examined the relevance of the coparenting construct with a more diverse sample than is typically utilized, and greater study is needed to continue expanding our understanding of this burgeoning concept across cultures.

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First Advisor

Erickson, Sarah

First Committee Member (Chair)

Delaney, Harold

Second Committee Member

Witherington, David

Third Committee Member

Broidy, Lisa

Fourth Committee Member

Matthews, Dan




Joint custody of children--Psychological aspects, Divorced parents--Psychology, Aggressiveness, Parental influences, Conflict management.

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