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Communication privacy management of coparents concerning post-divorce dating

Aimee E Miller, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Although the complexity of post-divorce communication has garnered recent research attention across disciplines (Ahrons, 2007; Afifi & Schrodt, 2003b; Baum, 2004; Graham, 2003; Masheter, 1997a, 1997b), little is known about how coparents communicate and manage issues of privacy with one another. Former spouses who interact to raise their children struggle with maintaining privacy over their personal lives and sufficient openness they believe necessary to effectively coparent. As many coparents begin dating before or immediately after divorce (Anderson et al., 2004), it is important to understand how coparents interact and manage dating information with one another to minimize conflict and maintain effective coparenting relationships. The researcher adopted the interpretive paradigm to answer two research questions: How, if at all, do coparents disclose information to one another about their post-divorce dating? How, if at all, do coparents develop and enact communication privacy rules with one another to create and negotiate their privacy boundaries regarding post-divorce dating? The researcher conducted 35 interviews with divorced coparents. Using Smith's (1995) process of thematic analysis, Communication Privacy Management (CPM) (Petronio, 2002) was engaged as an organizing framework (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) to understand participants’ privacy management concerning dating information. ^ Results indicated that participants relied on direct disclosures, third-party disclosures, and inferences to reveal dating information, and developed and enacted individual dating privacy rules without negotiating rules with their coparents. Coparents managed intersected boundaries and reported experiencing limited boundary turbulence. Issues of rule negotiation and the exercise of control, strategic communication in privacy management, and quality coparenting through direct disclosure were salient in the interviews, and the researcher addresses the implications of these issues for the study of post-divorce communication. The researcher also provides insight in improving post-divorce communication by suggesting coparents wait longer to start new dating relationships, use the divorce decree to guide post-divorce interactions, and use email as a channel of communication. The researcher calls for CPM to address the difficulty in coordinating privacy boundaries when gaining information through inferences. ^

Subject Area

Speech Communication|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Miller, Aimee E, "Communication privacy management of coparents concerning post-divorce dating" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3252441.