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01-03-2012 | Uitgave 1/2012 Open Access

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 1/2012

Bidirectional Associations Between Coparenting Relations and Family Member Anxiety: A Review and Conceptual Model

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review > Uitgave 1/2012
Mirjana Majdandžić, Wieke de Vente, Mark E. Feinberg, Evin Aktar, Susan M. Bögels


Research into anxiety has largely ignored the dynamics of family systems in anxiety development. Coparenting refers to the quality of coordination between individuals responsible for the upbringing of children and links different subsystems within the family, such as the child, the marital relationship, and the parents. This review discusses the potential mechanisms and empirical findings regarding the bidirectional relations of parent and child anxiety with coparenting. The majority of studies point to bidirectional associations between greater coparenting difficulties and higher levels of anxiety. For example, the few available studies suggest that paternal and perhaps maternal anxiety is linked to lower coparental support. Also, research supports the existence of inverse links between coparenting quality and child anxiety. A child’s reactive temperament appears to have adverse effects on particularly coparenting of fathers. A conceptual model is proposed that integrates the role of parental and child anxiety, parenting, and coparenting, to guide future research and the development of clinical interventions. Future research should distinguish between fathers’ and mothers’ coparenting behaviors, include parental anxiety, and investigate the coparental relationship longitudinally. Clinicians should be aware of the reciprocal relations between child anxiety and coparenting quality, and families presenting for treatment who report child (or parent) anxiety should be assessed for difficulties in coparenting. Clinical approaches to bolster coparenting quality are called for.

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