(RxWiki News) After divorce, conflict between parents can be common, often parents argue over parenting styles, money and custody, but it is possible to change the relationship.
When divorced parents made an effort to focus solely on the welfare of their children, they found their relationship improved.
"Focus on the welfare of children."
Marilyn Coleman, PhD, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Missouri interviewed twenty divorced women who shared custody of their children aged 12 and under.
From these interviews, three types of co-parenting were identified: usually bad, usually good, and bad to better.
These types were chosen based on the kind of relationship the women described having with their exes from the time of separation to the time of the interview.
Nine women described their usually bad relationships as having mostly negative factors, full of criticisms, money concerns, and an inability to separate personal problems with parenting issues.
In the four usually good relationships, mothers generally believed their ex-husbands to be good parents and financially secure and had volunteered for shared custody.
The most interesting findings were of the relationships that went from bad to better. Seven of the twenty mothers claimed their relationships with their ex-husbands had improved.
All of these relationships were based on the mothers’ feeling that their ex-partners were capable, but personal feelings caused problems in co-parenting at the beginning.
In each “bad to better” relationship, the most influential factor was the shift from focusing on personal issues to focusing on the welfare of the children.
Dr. Coleman pointed out that that making the co-parenting relationship work requires thoughtful effort from each parent.
Using indirect means of communication like email and text, learning to transition conversations from personal issues to child-related issues, and having someone outside of the relationship with which to share negative feelings are all suggestions made by the researchers to attempt to improve the co-parenting relationship.
This study will be published in the upcoming issue of Family Relations by the University of Missouri. No conflict of interest was found.