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Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health


Coparenting is the coordination of childcare between two or more adults. The parents may live together or apart and provide care for dependent children. This is often a supportive relationship where positive childcare practices are reinforced. However, there can be disputes which create an unstable environment for children.


The nonstandard schedules of PSP often involve rotating shifts, mandatory overtime, and call-ins. These work requirements can conflict with childcare responsibilities. In some cases, this puts pressure on the non-PSP parent to fill-in the gaps. When one parent takes on an unfair share of child rearing in the coparenting relationship, they may experience fatigue and resentment due to role overload.

Adaptive coparenting

Adaptive coparenting is when two parents work together to overcome challenges related to parenting roles. For example, the non-PSP parent might arrange a family visit to the fire station to visit their firefighter (PSP parent) on duty – this gives children a chance to connect and see where their parent works. Rotating shifts also provide opportunities for parenting. Certain shifts allow PSP to be home with children during the daytime which can benefit dual-career couples.

Challenges of coparenting

Coparenting may become more difficult when there are problems in the relationship due to poor communication and conflicts.

Competing Demands

Some PSP organizations have yet to take into account family and childcare responsibilities within dual-career households. This can make it difficult to balance work and family life.

Maladaptive Coparenting

Families can suffer when parents are unable or unwilling to share childcare fairly. Problems can also arise when a parent undermines the other parent’s child rearing practices.

Gender Inequality

A study showed that married male police officers spend less time caring for children and elders than their spouses. With the birth of children, there is sometimes a shift for women to traditional roles within the family.

Examples of adaptive and maladaptive coparenting

References for this page (click to expand)

American Psychological Association. (2022). APA dictionary of psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://dictionary.apa.org/

Brodie, P. J., & Eppler, C. (2012). Exploration of perceived stressors, communication, and resilience in law-enforcement couples. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 23(1), 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2012.654082

Duxbury, L., Bardoel, A., & Halinski, M. (2021). ‘Bringing the badge home’: exploring the relationship between role overload, work-family conflict, and stress in police officers. Policing & Society, 31(8), 997-1016. https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2020.1822837

Feinberg, M. E., Boring, J., Le, Y., Hostetler, M. L., Karre, J., Irvin, J., & Jones, D. E. (2020). Supporting military family resilience at the transition to parenthood: A randomized pilot trial of an online version of family foundations. Family Relations, 69(1), 109-124. https://doi.org/10.1111/fare.12415

Paley, B., Lester, P., & Mogil, C. (2013). Family systems and ecological perspectives on the impact of deployment on military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16(3), 245-265. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-013-0138-y

Saltzman, W. R., Lester, P., Beardslee, W. R., Layne, C. M., Woodward, K., & Nash, W. P. (2011). Mechanisms of risk and resilience in military families: Theoretical and empirical basis of a family-focused resilience enhancement program. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14(3), 213-230. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-011-0096-1

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