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Parenthood remains in Rotterdam

Optimal support for children of conflict divorces
Publication date: 01 January 2015

Conflict divorces burden children with chronic conflicts between parents, a decreased quality of parenting and impaired communication, a lack of or less supervision, parental psychopathology, a chaotic family life and impaired parent-child relationships.

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Project description

The study Parenthood remains in Rotterdam researches the unintended negative side effects of child-focused intervention programmes. In this study, researchers focus specifically on the process of shared decision-making. If the process of shared decision-making within interventions is not optimally designed, it will negatively influence the effect of the support offering.

Target group

Every year, 3,500 children get caught in the middle of conflict divorces. About 16,000 children experienced serious problems with the messy divorce of their parents. Conflict divorces burden children with chronic conflicts between parents, a decreased quality of parenting and impaired communication, a lack of or less supervision, parental psychopathology, a chaotic family life and impaired parent-child relationships.

Experiencing a conflict divorce has significant negative consequences for children, such as the accumulation of arrears in the development, a higher probability of exhibiting delinquent and aggressive behaviour, low self-esteem, depression, problems with friendships, weak connections with parents and problems at school. Stagnant interaction and conflict between parents during childhood can lead later on in life to psychological problems, alcohol abuse, troubled relationships and separations in private relationships. 

Child-focused intervention programmes

Although there are various child-focused intervention programmes being offered at this time to specifically support children in conflict divorces (for an overview see: http://www.nji.nl/wegwijzer-kind-en-scheiding), these interventions cause unintended negative side effects. It is important to conduct more research into these unintended negative side effects to reduce these as much as possible so that as many children as possible can benefit from child intervention programmes.

Researchers of the Research Centre of Innovations of Care have - together with students from the minor course Opvoedschakels [Upbringing links] and a Pedagogical Sciences student from the Erasmus University Rotterdam - worked on focus groups and a Q-sort study with children in conflict divorces. The researchers questioned children who participate in a child-focused intervention about their views on and experiences with the different phases of shared decision-making, while participating in child-focused interventions. These views and experiences were later transformed into propositions, which were prioritised by the children in conflict divorce situations on the basis of the Q-sort methodology. This is how researchers aim to understand their needs and wishes.

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