Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Study says divorce doesn't hurt parenting

A massive new study found that parenting doesn’t suffer during divorce — in fact, parenting behavior is similar among newly divorced and married parents.

University of Alberta, Canada, sociology Professor Lisa Strohschein looked at three measures of parenting — nurturing, consistency and punishment — and found divorce did not affect parenting behavior.

“My findings that parenting practices are unrelated to divorce appear to
fly in the face of accepted wisdom,” Strohschein said. “Undoubtedly, some parents will be overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of parenting in the post-divorce period, but the expectation that all parents will be negatively affected by divorce is unfounded.”

The study used the 1994 and 1996 National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth to compare changes in parenting practices between 208 households that divorced and 4,796 households that remained intact.

“This study is important because governments in both Canada and the U.S. have allocated considerable resources over the past decade to provide parenting seminars on a mandatory or voluntary basis to parents who legally divorce,” says Strohschein. “Although these programs do assist parents and children in adjusting to divorce, it is equally clear that not all parents will be well served by such programs.”

Strohschein said researchers need to look now at post-divorce predictors of parenting behavior to create realistic programs that address divorced parents real needs.

This study appears in Family Relations.

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