Sociology Publications and Other Works

A Program Evaluation of Parenting Apart: Effective Co-Parenting

Melissa I. Rector, University of Tennessee - Knoxville

Abstract

A two-month longitudinal program evaluation was conducted of a four-hour mandated parent education program for divorcing parents of minor children. To expand on Brandon’s (2006) program evaluation of the same program, the present study sought to examine knowledge gain and behavior change in participants. Using a retrospective post-then-pre design, 139 participants reported their knowledge gain in two areas: (a) the impacts of divorce and of putting children in the middle of conflict, and (b) strategies to reduce conflict with one’s former spouse. Two-month follow-up interviews were used to assess behavior change in two areas: (a) using techniques to manage post-divorce conflict with one’s former spouse, and (b) implementing strategies to keep children out of the middle of conflict. The participants reported knowledge gain and behavior change in each of the four respective areas.

It was found that knowledge gain in both areas and behavior change in using techniques to manage post-divorce conflict did not vary as a function of parent gender, race, or parenting stage. However, results indicated behavior change in implementing strategies to keep children out of the middle of conflict varied only as a function of parenting stage (F(1) = 8.45, p < .01). It was also found that knowledge gain in regards to the impact of divorce and putting children in the middle of conflict predicted behavior change in regards to implementing strategies to keep children out of the middle of conflict (p < .05). The results of this study are intended to suggest improvements for the program as well as to provide insights for other parenting education programs for divorcing parents.