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Responding to concerns about a study of infant overnight care postseparation, with comments on consensus: Reply to Warshak (2014)
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2015, 00:00 authored by Jennifer McintoshJennifer Mcintosh, B M Smyth, M A Kelaher
© 2015 American Psychological Association. Richard Warshak (2014) published a "consensus report" in this journal (Vol. 20, No. 1) documenting a policy position on infants and overnight care following parental separation. He asserts that "[t]here is no evidence to support postponing the introduction of regular and frequent involvement, including overnights, of both parents with their babies and toddlers" (p. 60). To support this assertion, Warshak presents a series of detailed concerns about an Australian study the authors conducted, some of which involve serious misrepresentations of our aims, methodology, and findings. In this reply, we clarify the purpose, context, and limitations of our study, and refute one of Warshak's central theses: that our study's design and results favor primary maternal care of young children and discourage overnights and shared parenting for fathers. We appraise the Warshak article, and consider whether other approaches to consensus statements and to policy dialogue might better serve families involved in the family law system, particularly when emotive debates such as the overnight care of young children cannot yet be resolved by science.