Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Coparenting and Relationship Satisfaction in Parents Raising a Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
by McConnell, Allen D., Jr., Psy.D., Union Institute and University, 2015, 172; 3723285
Abstract (Summary)

Coparenting is a complex construct that focuses on the way parents work together in their roles as parents. Five distinct domains of coparenting have recently been proposed in the literature as a method of examining the primary challenges and responsibilities associated with raising children in today’s society. These domains include: childrearing agreement, coparental support versus undermining behaviors, division of labor, joint management of family dynamics, and parenting-based closeness. There is also a strong link between coparenting and marital / dyadic relationship satisfaction with previous research suggesting that a strong marital / dyadic relationship often produces a strong coparenting relationship. Although coparenting and relationship satisfaction continue to gain increasing attention by family psychologists, the concept of coparenting has not been examined in parents raising a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

A total of 31 parent dyads (biological mothers and fathers) participated in this study. Specifically, 10 parent dyads raising a child with an ASD, 11 parent dyads raising a child with Down Syndrome (DS), and 10 parent dyads raising a “Typically Developing” (TD) child completed the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) and Coparenting Relationship Scale (CRS). Overall, parents reported an average level of dyadic adjustment and a moderately strong coparenting relationship. Regarding dyadic adjustment, parents raising child with an ASD reported significantly lower scores than parents raising a TD child. Furthermore, parents in the ASD group reported lower scores in the areas of Dyadic Consensus, Dyadic Satisfaction, and Affectional Expression when compared to parents in the DS and TD subsamples. Interestingly, no significant differences were found among the three subsamples on the CRS Total Score. The main difference among the three subsamples on the CRS was found on the Division of Labor subdomain with parents raising a child with an ASD reporting significantly lower scores than parents from the DS and TD subsamples. A strong positive association between marital / dyadic adjustment and the overall coparenting relationship was also found in parents from the ASD and TD subsamples; however, this association was not found in parents raising a child with DS. Another finding of interest was that no significant differences were found between mothers and fathers in all three samples on the DAS and CRS. Overall, the results of this study contribute to the understanding of marital / dyadic and coparenting relationships in families raising a child with an ASD. Implications of these findings for psychologists working with this population are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ossege, Jennifer
Commitee: McGhee, Joy, Michalec, David, Scott, Jennifer
School: Union Institute and University
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Psychology
Keywords: Autism, Coparenting, Down syndrome, Relationship satisfaction
Publication Number: 3723285
ISBN: 978-1-339-06002-6
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