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Coparenting and Toddler's Interactive Styles in Family Coalitions
The current study examined the coparenting and toddler's interactive styles in family coalitions. According to structural family theory, boundaries between generations are clear in alliances, but disturbed in coalitions: the parents look to the child to regulate their conflictual relationship and the child attempts to meet this need. In a normative sample studied longitudinally during the Lausanne Trilogue Play situation (LTP, N=38), 15 coalition cases were detected. Styles of coparenting and of child's interactions were determined and compared in coalition and alliance cases at 18 months. Findings confirm the structural family model by showing the specific ways in which the coparenting and the toddler's interactive styles are associated in 3 different patterns of coalitions: binding, detouring, and triangulation. They illustrate how the child's triangular capacity, or her ability to simultaneously communicate with both parents, is used to regulate the parents' relationship. They suggest that the LTP observational paradigm is a promising assessment method of early family interactions. They point to the importance of assessing early the child's contribution to family coalitions.
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