Advertisement

Parenting in Isolation, Without or With a Partner

  • Valentín Escudero
  • Myrna L. Friedlander
Chapter
Part of the Focused Issues in Family Therapy book series (FIFT)

Abstract

This chapter describes the therapeutic challenges of addressing problems in parenting with overburdened single parents, with high-conflict separated or divorced couples, and with two-parent families where one parent is uninvolved with the children or is actively obstructive to the therapeutic process. The focus of the chapter is the use of specific alliance strategies to empower families when one parent is literally or psychologically absent, as well as when both parents are actively involved in treatment but are in sharp disagreement about their child’s behavior (e.g., use of alcohol/drugs, eating problems, “coming out” as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender). We recommend specific ways to engage the absentee parent and discuss how to approach the case when this strategy fails. We also describe ways to use the therapeutic alliance to empower single parents to address their children’s internalizing and externalizing difficulties. Often the lack of coordination in parenting arises when the child or adolescent is in crisis. An extended example shows, through annotated dialogue, how a therapist approached working with a Chinese mother who had the sole burden of parenting a 13-year-old boy with Down’s syndrome who had recently made a sexual advance to another boy. When the father eventually agreed to attend a session, the therapist used various strategies to ensure safety and enhance the within-couple alliance around shared parenting responsibilities, all the while being careful not to shame the father about his lack of involvement or create a split alliance that would have harmed the fragile couple relationship.

Keywords

Isolated parent One-parent families Absent parent Co-parenting High-conflict couples Empower single parent 

References

  1. Beach, S. R. H. (2016). Expanding the study of dyadic conflict: The potential role of self-evaluation maintenance processes. In A. Booth, A. C. Crouter, M. L. Clements, & T. Boone-Holliday (Eds.), Couples in conflict (pp. 83–94). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Bernstein, A. C. (2007). Re-visioning, restructuring, and reconciliation: Clinical practice with complex postdivorce families. Family Process, 46, 67–78.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Blow, A. J., Morrison, N. C., Tamaren, K., Wright, K., Schaafsma, M., & Nadaud, A. (2009). Change processes in couple therapy: An intensive case analysis of one couple using a common factors lens. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 35, 350–368.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Blow, K., & Daniel, G. (2002). Frozen narratives? Post-divorce processes and contact disputes. Journal of Family Therapy, 24, 85–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. New York: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  6. Buehler, C., & Pasley, K. (2000). Family boundary ambiguity, marital status, and child adjustment. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 20, 281–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coulehan, R., Friedlander, M. L., & Heatherington, L. (1998). Transforming narratives: A change event in constructivist family therapy. Family Process, 37, 17–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cummings, E. M., Goeke-Morey, M. C., & Papp, L. M. (2016). Couple conflict, children, and families: It’s not just you and me, babe. In I. A. Booth, A. C. Crouter, M. L. Clements, & T. Boone-Holliday (Eds.), Couples in conflict (pp. 117–147). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Diamond, G. S., Diamond, G. M., & Levy, S. A. (2014). Attachment Based Family Therapy for depressed adolescents. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Earley, L., & Cushway, D. (2002). The parentified child. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 7, 163–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Edelson, M. G., Hokoda, A., & Ramos-Lira, L. (2007). Differences in effects of domestic violence between Latina and non-Latina women. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Escudero, V., Boogmans, E., Loots, G., & Friedlander, M.L. (2012). Alliance rupture and repair in conjoint family therapy: An exploratory study. Psychotherapy, 49, 26–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Friedlander, M. L., Escudero, V., & Heatherington, L. (2006). Therapeutic alliances with couples and families: An empirically-informed guide to practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedlander, M. L., Escudero, V., Heatherington, L., & Diamond, G. M. (2011). Alliance in couple and family therapy. Psychotherapy, 48, 25–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Friedlander, M. L., Heatherington, L., Johnson, B., & Skowron, E. A. (1994). “Sustaining engagement”: A change event in family therapy. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 41, 438–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Friedlander, M. L., Kivlighan, D. M., & Shaffer, K. (2012). Exploring actor-partner interdependence in family therapy: Whose view (parent or adolescent) best predicts treatment progress? Journal of Counseling Psychology, 59, 168–175.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Friedlander, M. L., Lambert, J. E., Escudero, V., & Cragun, C. (2008). How do therapists enhance family alliances? Sequential analyses of therapist → client behavior in two contrasting cases. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 45, 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Friedlander, M. L., Lee, H. H., Shaffer, K. S., & Cabrera, P. (2014). Negotiating therapeutic alliances with a family at impasse: An evidence-based case study. Psychotherapy, 51, 41–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Kim, B. S., Atkinson, D. R., & Umemoto, D. (2001). Asian cultural values and the counseling process: Current knowledge and directions for future research. The Counseling Psychologist, 29, 570–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lambert, J. E., Skinner, A., & Friedlander, M. L. (2012). Problematic within-family alliances in conjoint family therapy: A close look at five cases. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38, 417–428.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Liddle, H. (2010). Multidimensional Family Therapy: A science-based treatment system. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 133–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McHale, J. P. (2004). Overt and covert parenting processes in the family. Family Process, 36, 183–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Minuchin, S., & Fishman, C. (1981). Techniques of family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Muñiz de la Peña, C., Friedlander, M. L., & Escudero, V. (2009). Frequency, severity, and evolution of split family alliances: How observable are they? Psychotherapy Research, 19, 133–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Rhodes, P. (2013). The Maudsley model of family therapy for children and adolescents with anorexia nervosa: Theory, clinical practice, and empirical support. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 24, 191–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Robbins, M. S., Liddle, H. A., Turner, C. W., Dakof, G. A., Alexander, J. F., & Kogan, S. M. (2006). Adolescent and parent therapeutic alliances as predictors of dropout in Multidimensional Family Therapy. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 108–116.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Rober, P. (2012). The single-parent family and the family therapist: About invitations and positioning. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sexton, T. L. (2011). Functional Family Therapy: An evidence-based treatment model for working with troubled adolescents. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Szapocznik, J., & Williams, R. A. (2000). Brief Strategic Family Therapy: Twenty-five years of interplay among theory, research and practice in adolescent behavior problems and drug abuse. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 3, 117–134.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentín Escudero
    • 1
  • Myrna L. Friedlander
    • 2
  1. 1.University of A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.University at Albany/SUNYAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations