Parental Expressiveness as a Moderator of Coparenting and Marital Relationship Quality*

Authors


  • *

    This research was funded by a grant from the John E. Fetzer Institute to the second author. The second author was also funded by an Independent Scientist Award (K02 HD047423) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The first author was funded by the University of Michigan NICHD Developmental Training Grant (T32 HD007109). We would like to thank the families of the Marriage and Child Development Study for their time and commitment to this research.

**Amy M. Kolak is Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043 (kolak@umich.edu).

Brenda L. Volling is a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043 (volling@umich.edu).

Abstract

Abstract: Driven by theory and extant research on the communication of emotions within the family, the current investigation examined marital quality and parents’ emotional expressiveness as determinants of coparenting in a sample of 57 couples with young children. Specifically, mothers’ and fathers’ expressiveness was examined as moderators of the association between marital quality and coparenting behavior. Though negative expressiveness did not emerge as a significant predictor of coparenting when considered in conjunction with marital quality, parents’ positive expressiveness made unique and interactive contributions to coparenting. Thus, it appears that positive expressiveness, especially fathers’, may be beneficial to family functioning. Positively expressive husbands protected couples from negative coparenting interactions in the face of less supportive marriages. Couples in distressed marriages may benefit from work with practitioners and family life educators who consider the role that the communication of emotions plays in the context of coparenting.

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