Divorcees' experiences of emotional regulation within a co-parenting relationship
Emotional regulation is generally defined as the process in which individuals attempt to control the intensity, duration and expressive behaviour concerning an emotion. It has been suggested that the context in which emotional regulation occurs significantly impacts the individual’s ability to successfully regulate emotions. A divorce can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to successfully regulate emotions. Scant literature exists on divorcees’ experience of emotional regulation in a co-parenting context. Various factors can influence co-parents’ ability to regulate their emotions during co-parenting tasks after a divorce. This study focused on the experience of emotional regulation within divorced co-parents. The researcher aimed to gain insight into these experiences by making use of a qualitative research design which is aimed at gaining in depth, authentic experiences of the participants. A multiple, single case study design was employed. The data was analysed by making use of thematic analysis. Gross’s process model of emotional regulation has been argued to be the leading model in explaining emotional regulation and the different regulatory strategies as it encompasses strategies employed throughout the generative course of emotions. This model was originally presented in 1998 and has been extended to the extended process model. The model is grounded on the modal model of emotions which conceptualises emotions as a four step process. Results and findings were thus discussed at the hand of this model. Results indicated that divorced co-parents makes use of a wide variety of emotional regulation strategies including adaptive and maladaptive strategies. Prominent emotional regulation strategies utilised by participants included; redirection of focus, reappraisal, adaptive behaviours as well as maladaptive behaviours.