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FAMILY : Co-Parents Help Kids of Divorce

March 09, 1994|ELIZABETH MEHREN

Co-parenting--through which both parents attempt to stay involved in their children's lives after divorce--is an increasingly common strategy against shattered-family syndrome.

An estimated 80% of divorced parents say they are co-parents, meaning that they have put aside their anger for the sake of their children.

But in researching her new study, "Families Apart" (Putnam's), Melinda Blau found that there were no ground rules for co-parenting.

Most of these mothers and fathers were muddling through, she discovered, learning not to obliterate the differences that separated them but to put them aside.

For divorced parents trying to cooperate, the message turns out to be positive--even with no real guidelines--Blau says. The key elements are time and motivation.

For example, most of the co-parents she surveyed characterized themselves as "extremely hostile" or "moderately angry" in the first year after divorce. When asked later to identify factors that improved co-parenting, 83% cited the passage of time.

Almost as many answered positively to Blau's question: "If I don't agree with my ex's standards or approach to child-rearing, I can accept that we're different."

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