We do not parent in isolation, we do it within the context of a greater social and cultural community or ‘tribe’ we live in. As parents and as co-parents, we are trying to raise children that fit into this tribe. To talk about co-parenting in the U.S. which is constantly becoming more and more culturally diverse, there are unique challenges for us. There are also unique opportunities.
Before talking about these though we need to understand how marriage, divorce, separation and co-parenting have been trending globally over the past several years. In short, divorce rates are climbing globally with developing countries seeing the sharpest increases. Socio-economic factors that come into play;
- Higher level of economic development. One of the most powerful predictors of the rate of divorce is a country’s gross national income (per capita). In wealthier countries (as measured by gross national income), a greater proportion of people get divorced.
- More of their women are in the workforce. Countries with a greater percentage of women (ages 15 and older) in the labor force have higher rates of divorce.
- They are more highly educated. Nations with more people enrolled in secondary education have higher divorce rates.
- Low or declining incidence of cultural and religious stigmas toward divorce. Countries with rigid cultural and/or religious stigmas about divorce, generally the lower the national divorce rate.
You can characterize these developing countries as ones going through sustained aggressive growth, marked by booms in their middle-class and overall wealth. Great examples are Brazil (+500% divorce rate increase since 19601) and China (divorce rate has quadrupled since 20022) as they have been experiencing sustained growth for in the gross national income for almost two decades.
Co-parenting challenges due to socio-cultural stigmas in the U.S. are shifting but remain entrenched in waning cultural expectations, and religious stigmas. Specifically, stigmas related to the shame toward a failed marriage (both men and women), assumptions that divorcees (men/women) are damaged goods, and various levels of shunning that happen from a couples religious community. Most of these stigmas are shifting as studies reveal conclusive evidence:
- Children who are removed from a high conflict or toxic two-parent family environments ultimately fair better than if they stayed, even if raised in a single parent home.
- Over 50 studies have demonstrated children with low-conflict collaborative co-parents or shared parenting experience lower levels of depression, anxiety, and dissatisfaction; lower aggression; less use of alcohol and drugs; less smoking; better school performance and cognitive development; better physical health; and better family relationships.3
Co-parenting trends show clear benefits for children’s health through their formative years, this coupled with the increase in diverse family living arrangements that have been trending in the last 4+ years shows that while these challenges exist, American society is evolving to embrace co-parenting as a socially acceptable option. And while divorce rates remain relatively high co-parenting moms and dads are coming together for the sake of the kids and the greater good of the ‘tribe’.
- Socioeconomic and cultural features of consensual unions in Brazil
- Chinese Divorce Rate | ThoughtCo
- A Panel Of Leading Child Development Experts Answer The Burning Questions About Shared Parenting After Divorce | Child & Family Blog