Table of Contents:
The present dissertation project addressed coparenting. Coparenting has been conceptualized as a multidimensional construct, which describes the parental collaboration in childrearing. In the context of the present dissertation project coparenting is understood as consisting of four dimensions. Cooperation refers to the extent parents exchange information about their child and support each other as parents. The degree to which parents agree on different child-related topics is considered as another dimension of coparenting (agreement). Furthermore, conflict is defined as the extent of parental arguments or fights over childrearing. Finally, triangulation includes coalition formation between a child and one parent, and involvement of the child in parental conflicts. So far research on coparenting was missing within the German developmental psychology. Therefore, the present dissertation project comprehends three studies dealing with coparenting. Study 1 a meta-analytic review has integrated all published studies (up to 31.03.2010) on the relation between coparenting and child adjustment. The results showed that coparenting is both cross-sectional and longitudinal significantly associated with the psychological adjustment of children and adolescents. However, the effect sizes were generally small (Cohen, 1988).
The purpose of the second study was to develop the Coparenting Inventory for Parents and Adolescents (CI-PA), which assesses with three parallelized versions (for mothers, fathers, and adolescents) cooperation, conflict, and triangulation as direct observable dimensions of coparenting. The results showed adequate psychometric properties of the adolescent (adapted for 10 to 18 years olds), mother, and father versions of the CI-PA.
The third study used a cluster-analytic strategy to identify types of families in terms of parents’ and adolescents’ views of coparenting: “High-Functioning-Families” (all family members rated coparenting as above average positive), “Congruent-Negative-Families” (all family members rated coparenting as below average negative), Positive-Discrepant-Families” (adolescents scored their parents coparenting in more positive way than their parents), and “Negative-Discrepant-Families” (adolescents scored their parents coparenting in a more negative way than their parents). Adolescents from “Negative-Discrepant-Families” had the highest level of maladjustment. Accordingly, the results of study 3 suggest the importance of direction and magnitude of perceptual differences between adolescents and their parents for the link between such perceptual differences and adolescent maladjustment.
In sum, the present dissertation project proved the importance of coparenting for the psychosocial development of children and adolescents (study 1). The newly developed CI-PA constitutes a questionnaire with convincing psychometric properties adapted for further research and psychological practice. An interesting option for further research may be a replication of the results of study 3 within a longitudinal study design.