Most experts agree that shared parenting is in the best interests of the child. There are legitimate concerns from researchers that shared parenting is not the best arrangement for every family, including where family abuse is found. There are other situations where academics are yet to agree, including the shared parenting of infants and toddlers. Find out below what the leading experts have to say about the outcomes of shared parenting for children.
Note: Some of the research into shared parenting has sparked a lot of controversy and contention. This is largely linked to research being misquoted, questions about the methodology of studies and the difficulty of comparing research that define shared parenting in different ways. Be sure to take care when reading about research online.
Quality Vs Quantity
Many researchers have concluded that the quality of parenting is more important to children's outcomes than the quantity of time spent with a parent.
However, it is important to note that sufficient contact time is needed to sustain close, quality relationships:
“To maintain high-quality relationships with their children, parents need to have sufficiently extensive and regular interaction with them, but the amount of time involved is usually less important than the quality of the interaction that it fosters” (Lamb, Sternberg & Thompson 1997)
Lamb, Sternberg & Thompson also suggest that both parents should be involved in the child’s everyday routine to allow them to play a psychologically important role in the child’s life.
So what does this mean for shared parenting?
- It may not be useful to create arrangements based purely on splitting time equally between parents, but that may be a useful starting point for discussions.
- Arrangements should ideally allow both parents to spend quality time with the child - including everyday aspects of their life.
- Regardless of quality or quantity of time spent, all arrangements should be adaptable to the child's needs and the practicalities of the situation.