Kenneth Braswell; CEO
Fathers Incorporated

Co-parenting can be challenging, and difficult conversations are an inevitable part of the process. While both mothers and fathers can struggle with communication in co-parenting situations, research suggests that there may be some differences in how they approach these conversations.

One study found that mothers tend to be more focused on emotional support and maintaining harmony in co-parenting relationships, while fathers tend to prioritize practical problem-solving and setting boundaries (Katz-Wise & Priess, 2016). This difference in communication styles can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and conflict, as each parent may have different expectations about how to communicate and work together.

Another study found that mothers are more likely to engage in what researchers call “gatekeeping” behaviors, which involve controlling access to the child and limiting the father’s involvement (McClain & Sisson, 2019). This can make it difficult for fathers to feel like they have a say in co-parenting decisions, and may contribute to power imbalances in the relationship.

However, it’s important to note that these differences in communication styles are not always present and may vary depending on individual circumstances. Both mothers and fathers can struggle with communication in co-parenting situations, and it’s important for both parties to work together to find a communication style that works for them.

One approach that can be helpful is to focus on active listening and empathy. This involves taking the time to really listen to the other person’s perspective, and trying to understand their feelings and concerns. It’s also important to avoid using language that is confrontational or aggressive, and to focus on finding common ground and solutions that work for everyone involved.

While there may be some differences in how fathers and mothers approach difficult co-parenting conversations, it’s important for both parties to work together to find effective communication strategies that prioritize mutual respect and understanding. By focusing on active listening, empathy, and a willingness to collaborate, co-parents can build stronger, healthier relationships and provide their children with the support and stability they need to thrive.


Katz-Wise, S. L., & Priess, H. A. (2016). Gender Differences in Co-parenting: Implications for Fathers’ and Mothers’ Parenting Stress and Child Outcomes. Sex Roles, 74(3), 147-162.

McClain, L. R., & Sisson, S. B. (2019). “Gatekeeping” or Allowing? Differences in Fathers’ and Mothers’ Perceptions of Fathers’ Involvement in Child Care. Journal of Family Issues, 40(3), 339-360.

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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