Co-parenting, parenting, and preschool children’s adjustment
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Despite the known significance of parenting behavior and co-parenting for a wide range of children’s social-emotional developmental outcomes, studies that include indices of the quality of multiple dimensions of co-parenting, parenting behavior and children’s attachment relationships and problems, simultaneously, are relatively scarce. The extant literature shows co-parenting cooperation enhances parenting skills resulting in fewer children’s problem behaviors, whereas co-parenting conflict is linked to more problem behaviors in preschool children. Beyond problem behaviors, attachment security during preschool years is important because it carries forward positive social expectations, social competence in interaction with peers, and sense of self-worth. The present study examined whether and how variations in dimensions of co-parenting cooperation (cooperation, conflict and triangulation) were associated with preschool children’s attachment security and problem behaviors during the preschool years. To these ends, this study tested direct and indirect effects of multi-dimensions of co-parenting and preschool children’s attachment security and problem behaviors through harsh parenting. A path analysis was conducted using Mplus 8.3 version in a community sample of 60 mothers (ages 4-5 years; M = 33.42; SD = 5.11) and children (ages 4-5 years; M= 5.20; SD = 3.64; 28.8% females), including cumulative socioeconomic risks and child temperament as covariates. The results revealed that significant direct effects of co-parenting cooperation and triangulation on child attachment security, and child problems. That is, greater co-parenting cooperation was associated with greater attachment security among preschoolers, whereas greater co-parenting triangulation was related to fewer child problem behaviors during the preschool years. In addition, there was a significant direct effect of harsh parenting and child problem behaviors, showing that greater harsh parenting was associated with more child problem behaviors among preschoolers. Taken together, the findings highlight the domain-specific links between multiple dimensions of co-parenting, harsh parenting and attachment security and problems during the preschool years.