Either Come Together or Fall Apart”: Coparenting Young Children with Challenging Behaviors

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parenting, temperament, family process, qualitative research, relationship processes

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This study explored how couples raising a child with challenging behaviors work together in their roles as parents. Nine married couples raising children between 36 and 71 months with significant behavioral challenges were interviewed. Mothers and fathers were interviewed separately using a semistructured interview guided by Feinberg’s (2003) model of coparenting. Thematic analysis of responses revealed the shock to the couple subsystem that occurred for participants as they became aware of their child’s significant behavioral challenges. Couples responded to this shock by moving together (engaging in supportive coparenting), moving apart (parenting in ways that were at odds with or not supportive of each other), or some combination of the 2. Themes related to moving together and moving apart were identified, and their implications for research and practice are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, v. 4, issue 2, p. 74-91