Shared Parenting, Mental Health, and Health Complaints Among Norwegian Adolescents

Session : Plenary 1: The Current State of Shared Parenting Research

  • Time : 7:55 am PDT To 10:05 am PDT on
  • Venue : Virtual Room 1

Full Abstract

1 Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, NORCE - Norwegian Research Centre Background: The frequency of shared parenting families is on the rise in Norway, as in several Western societies. Shared parenting has also become more common among groups of less-educated parents with more conflicted arrangements. This presentation aims to present results from two empirical studies investigating physical- and mental health related outcomes among Norwegian adolescents in various family structures including shared custody, and to discuss implications for further research on the intersection between shared parenting and family violence. Methods: Data stem from the youth@hordaland study, an epidemiological study of adolescents aged 16-19 years conducted in 2012 (N = 10,257). Detailed information regarding family structure, sibship-type, and socioeconomic status (SES), were provided by adolescent self-report. Mental health was measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and common health complaints among adolescents were assessed. Results: Youth in shared custody displayed lower levels of mental health problems and reported fewer health complaints than peers in single-parent or stepparent families (standardized mean differences ranged from 0.1 – 0.3). Moreover, no statistically significant differences between youth in shared custody and peers in nuclear two-parent families were detected. Although the estimates attenuated, this pattern remained in fully adjusted analyses accounting for SES. Conclusion: Shared custody is associated with fewer physical- and mental health-related problems than other post-separation arrangements. As shared custody becomes more frequent, differentiating between and evaluating the impact of interparental conflict and family violence becomes an important venue for continued research.