When parents divorce and a family disconnects, communication between both sides can be difficult. But for Mindy Markham and Becky DeGreeff, two professors at Kansas State University Salina, determining the best methods for keeping contact alive and abundant is at the forefront of their current research.
Markham, assistant professor of family studies and human services, and DeGreeff, assistant professor of communication studies, are collaborating on a study involving divorced, nonresidential parents and their adolescents, and how they use technology to communicate. The study is supported by a $40,600-plus grant from Kansas State University Salina’s Financial Assistance for Scholarship Development.
Currently, the professors are looking for both adults and adolescents to participate, with contributors paid for their time.
Since Markham began her graduate work in 2003, she has been solely focused on the subject of co-parenting after divorce. Though she doesn’t have a personal connection with separation, Markham says throughout her time as a student as well as a professional, it is apparent that more information is needed to help segregated families with their communication.
“I have worked with so many divorcing parents in my career and I continue to hear the same challenges of not being able to speak with their ex or their child,” Markham said. “If Becky and I can learn from these participants what communication techniques are successful and which ones don’t work, we can may help reconnect families in the future.”
Markham and DeGreeff plan to wrap up their study by May 2015. They hope to present their work at a national conference and publish their study in a recognized journal.
Those interested in taking part in the study need to meet the following criteria:
• A parent who is divorced from the father/mother of his or her adolescent child and the ex-partner has primary physical custody of the adolescent.
• Children who are between 12 years old and 17 years old, and their parents are divorced. Parental permission is required to participate.
• Participants who are willing to confidentially discuss their relationships and their methods of communicating or not communicating.
Markham says the adolescent interviews take approximately 20 to 45 minutes and the adult interviews can last 40 to 60 minutes. Adults are given $30 for their participation and adolescents will receive $10. For more information on the study or to participate, contact Markham at 785-826-2929 or [email protected], or DeGreeff at 785-826-2653 or [email protected]
Story by Julee Cobb / K-State Salina