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Entries in research (25)


Shared Parenting: Benefits and Barriers

Professor Tommy MacKay gave a presentation at the 2018 FNFS AGM on Shared Parenting: Benefits and Barriers.


Swedish shared residence research

Children living in shared residence (joint physical custody where the child is sharing time equally between two parent's homes) have similar outcomes to children living with two parents in the same household over a range of measures.  Children living with one parent show worse outcomes for some of these outcomes.

These results come from "The living conditions of children with shared residence - the Swedish example" a research study published in Child Indicators Research Journal.

The differences between shared and sole parenting were particularly true for economic and material conditions, relations with parents and health related outcomes while fewer differences were found in the school conditions studied here. These patterns were robust and only minimally affected by adjustment for parental education and country of birth.

The study took data from the yearly Swedish Living Conditions survey and its child supplement using information collected from children and parents. Sweden is ranked very high in the European index of child wellbeing and has high levels of shared parenting after separation.  Since 1998 the Swedish court has been able to order shared residence even if one parent opposes if the court finds this solution to be in the best interest of the child.

The researchers suggest that there is a need for further study the role of timing of the parental separation and the long-term consequences of growing up in various family forms.


Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers?

Professor FabriciusSeparated fathers often face resistance when they ask for their young children to stay overnight.

But a new study published in Psychology, Public Policy and Law suggests overnights in both parents’ homes (up to and including equal time spent in each) are associated with benefits to both mother-child and father-child relationships – even if the overnight parenting plan is imposed against one parent’s initial wishes.  The controversy relating to overnights has already been addressed in review papers by Warsak and Nielsen supporting the benefits of overnight stays with separated fathers.

This new study by William Fabricius and Go Woon Sun shows that these benefits held after controlling for subsequent parenting time with fathers in childhood and adolescence, parent education and conflict up to 5 years after the separation, and children’s sex and age at separation.  It focussed on longer-term associations with overnights, maintained a focus on the father-child relationship and also examined daytime-only parenting time.  Data were obtained from 230 college students whose parents separated before they were three years of age and from at least one of their parents.

While the findings do not establish causality they provide strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time for infants and toddlers, because the benefits associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections. The observed benefits for the long-term father-child relationship are consistent with findings from intervention studies showing that fathers who are more involved with infants and toddlers develop better parenting skills and relationships with their children.


Research studentship on father-child relationships and children’s well-being

Glasgow University Institute for Health and Wellbeing is seeking applications to undertake a PhD studentships on father-child relationships.

Research on the role of fathers in children’s socialisation has mainly focused on the benefits of father’s direct engagement in parenting activities in early childhood, including routine care and play.  Much less is known about the importance of paternal emotional support for the child (warmth and responsiveness), highlighted in a re-conceptualisation of father involvement .  Given increasing numbers of children with non-resident biological fathers and/or a resident social father, it is particularly important to investigate facilitators and benefits of supportive father-child relationships in non-traditional family types.

This PhD project would use data from around 3,000 10-12 year old children and their parents in the Growing Up in Scotland study.  It would involve a statistical analysis of the factors promoting supportive father-child relationships and other aspects of father involvement, as well as the benefits of involvement for children’s socio-emotional adjustment, among different family types.

It is expected that the study will also have a qualitative component, collecting data from a sub sample of fathers in order to supplement the results of the statistical analysis.  For example, it may focus on men who report low engagement with their children, exploring how they reflect on how themselves were parented as a context for their own parenting behaviour.


Child health problems caused by court decisions

Dr VezzettiA wide-ranging review paper by Dr Vittorio Vezzetti published in Health Psychology Open documents the children's health problems that can result from inappropriate family court decisions.  Parental loss during parental separation can affect the wellbeing and health of young children.

His study looks at the impact of the traumatic experience of parental separation, which may only become apparent after 10, 20 or 30 years.  More than 10 million children in Europe are affected by parental separation.

After considering evidence from a wide range of international peer-reviewed studies, Dr Vezzetti considers how various European and United States legislatures make shared parenting decisions, concluding that it is necessary for the judges to take more account of the health impact on children of reducing or ending contact with one parent.