Donatella Cavanna, Bastianoni Chiara

Mind the gap. Which mental space for children in the context of ex partners’ chronic conflict?

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Parental conflict, mentalizing abilities, children’s adjustment

The target article proposed by Di Blasio & Verrocchio provides a fundamental opportunity to deal with the complex issue of promoting coparenting processes within high-conflict post separated couples in both judicial and extra-judicial contexts. Despite the increase of divorce rates during the last decade, separation still represents a life event characterized by high levels of stress and emotional costs for both parents and children, requiring a difficult reorganization of the so called ‘family mind’. Furthermore, the presence of persistent and high levels of ex-marital conflict could impact their capabilities to share the emotional space connected to daily parental functions, with possible detrimental consequences for children’s psychosocial adjustment and for the quality of parent-child relationship. In that sense, the theoretical framework defined by attachment theory and the related construct of mentalization (the ability to represent self and others in terms of mental states underlying behaviors), could provide useful tools for working with these families. As a matter of fact, when parental minds are fully engaged with entrenched relational conflict the promotion of mentalizing abilities could help parents in creating an adequate mental space for holding their children’s needs and for the implementation of co-parental competences. Giving these premises, and also considering the intervention model proposed by Mentalization-Based Therapy for Parental Conflict, clinical and research implications are further discussed.

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