Coparenting : a conceptual and clinical examination of family systems.


Coparenting : a conceptual and clinical examination of family systems.

USFSP Faculty Role


SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

James P. McHale



The past 15 years have seen the explosive growth of a new field of study that has come to be known as coparenting (McHale & Sullivan, 2008). Since the turn of the new millennium, fresh new insights and thoughtful empirical research studies explicitly guided by coparenting frameworks have made their way into the peer-reviewed literature almost every few months. But what is coparenting, and why is there a need for an entire volume taking stock of such a relatively new field of study? Broadly speaking, coparenting is an enterprise undertaken by two or more adults who together take on the care and upbringing of children for whom they share responsibility (McHale, Lauretti, Talbot, & Pouquette, 2002). Viewed as a dynamic force in families that is related to, but also distinct from, parent-child or marital subsystems, coparenting is a framework that traces its roots most directly to Salvador Minuchin's (1974) structural family theory. This book complements and augments healthy marriage frameworks by taking instead the lens of healthy coparenting alliances. We are still very early in the process of learning about how coparenting systems evolve and function, and so this volume marks a moment in time--a point in the evolution of a field in which the questions still outnumber the answers. However, we have brought together for the first time diverse and broad-ranging research on coparenting from a group of contributors who have all provided leadership in this emerging field of research, studying coparenting in a wide range of family forms and systems. Chapters in this volume address what we know about coparenting alliances in nuclear, fragile, and extended kinship systems of different ethnicities and socioeconomic circumstances, in family systems headed by gay and lesbian parents, in circumstances in which biological and foster parents must coordinate as the major coparenting figures in the child's life, and in postdivorce family systems. The volume has two interrelated goals. The first is to bring together in an integrated fashion the latest research on coparenting, covering as best as possible the full gamut of studies with diverse caretaking systems. The second is to present issues directly relevant to clinical practice, attending to both the assessment of coparenting systems and to new and promising intervention efforts. Although all authors have approached coparenting from the same perspective--as the nature of the alliance between the two (or more) adults who together share responsibility for the child's care and upbringing-- readers will note variability across chapters in how authors have operationalized the construct



Publication Date



American Psychological Association



Coparenting : a conceptual and clinical examination of family systems.