Notes from the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017

This two day conference in Boston Massachusetts is the accomplishment of two organizations: National Parents Organization: Preserving the Bond Between Parents and Children; and International Council on Shared Parenting

National Parents Organization (NPO), founded in 1998, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable and educational organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. NPO is the largest organization in the United States advocating for science-based reform of the family courts for the benefit of children. It recognizes that preserving a strong bond between children and their parents is critically important to children's emotional, mental, and physical health, and seeks to apply scientific research to how this knowledge can best be applied to conflicted, separated and divorced families.

The International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP), founded in 2014 and based in Bonn, Germany, is an international association with individual members from the sectors science, family professions and civil society. The purpose of the association is first, the dissemination and advancement of scientific knowledge on the needs and rights ("best interests") of children whose parents are living apart, and second, to formulate evidence-based recommendations about the legal, judicial and practical implementation of shared parenting.

As Day 1 of the conference draws to a close, I am saturated in the best way possible with statistics, conclusions, and ideas for new areas of research. Researchers in the social sciences from 24 countries are present. The presentations, discussions, and conversations are robust and stimulating.  

Surprises so far:
* number of studies supporting shared parenting; much higher than I realized
* number of studies that confirm parental conflict as the most important issue; much, much lower than I thought
* research on attachment and overnights with fathers for infants and toddlers; it is essential

Validation so far:
* children need both parents
* parental warmth and positive parenting are critically important for 2-home children
* communication skills and conflict resolution skills protect and enhance resilience in children

Many of the researchers told stories today that have renewed my hope; stories of favorable outcomes; and tales about pathways to success for more families. Hannah's House is a research-to-practice program and the ideas are already percolating! This exchange of ideas at the professional level with such a diverse group is inspiring and empowering. I look forward to Day 2!