The present study examined associations between unwed mothers’ residency and romantic relationships with the biological father during the transition to a new baby and mothers’ later parenting stress. It also examined whether fathers’ financial and caregiving support accounted for variation in parenting stress across relationship trajectories.
Data were drawn from first two waves of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) (N = 2,736 in 18 cities), with relationship status measured at the focal child’s birth and one year later, and parenting stress measured one year after birth.
Parenting stress was highest among mothers who broke up with the father during the first year and lowest among those in consistent romantic relationships regardless of parents’ coresidence status. Both fathers’ financial and caregiving support mediated the association between relationship dissolution and higher maternal parenting stress, although caregiving support accounted for a larger proportion of the variation.
Programs to support low-income, unwed mothers should understand the hardships of a breakup may spill over into other socioemotional domains, such as parenting, when experienced during the transition to a new baby and that mothers who have experienced a breakup may require additional caregiving support services during this vulnerable time.
Attendant to the exponential increase in rates of incarceration of mothers with young children in the United States, programming has been established to help mothers attend to parenting skills and other family concerns while incarcerated. Unfortunately, most programs overlook the important, ongoing relationship between incarcerated mothers and family members caring for their children—most often, the inmates' own mothers. Research reveals that children's behavior problems escalate when different co-caregivers fail to coordinate parenting efforts and interventions, work in opposition, or disparage or undermine one another. This article presents relevant research on co-caregiving and child adjustment, highlights major knowledge gaps in need of study to better understand incarcerated mothers and their families, and proposes that existing interventions with such mothers can be strengthened through targeting and cultivating functional coparenting alliances in families.
Policy makers have become increasingly interested in addressing the cultural dimensions of child support, “responsible fatherhood,” and marriage in poor communities. However, policy studies have primarily focused on identifying economic determinants of these issues, with a substantial amount of variation in their statistical models left unexplained. This article draws on in-depth interviews the author conducted with disadvantaged mothers and fathers to illustrate how a systematic investigation into the meaning of low-income men’s ties to families may fill in or provide alternative explanations for some important questions related to paternal involvement. In particular, it suggests that analyzing fathers’ relationships through a cultural lens may not only reveal new information about the meaning of their emotional involvement, informal support, care of children, and conflicts with mothers which future policy studies should consider but may also inform policy initiatives by reducing the risk that they will be misdirected or have unintended consequences for poor families.
child support; cultural analysis; father involvement; low-income fathers; marriage; responsible fatherhood; union transitions
This study investigated relations between father involvement in caregiving and play and coparenting behavior using self-report and observational data from 80 two-parent families of preschool-aged children, and examined parents’ nontraditional beliefs about fathers’ roles and family earner status as moderators of these relations. Results indicated that greater father involvement in caregiving and play was associated with less observed undermining coparenting behavior in dual-earner families. Conversely, greater father involvement in caregiving was associated with less perceived supportive and greater perceived undermining coparenting behavior in single-earner families. Father involvement in play was not related to coparenting behavior among single-earner families. This study highlights the importance of considering parental employment patterns and the multidimensional nature of fathering behavior when studying fathering and coparenting.
This study compares psychosocial well-being between paternal and maternal orphans in rural China in a sample (N = 459) of children who had lost one parent to HIV and who were in family-based care. Measures included academic marks, education expectation, trusting relationships with current caregivers, self-reported health status, depression, loneliness, posttraumatic stress, and social support. No significant differences were found between maternal and paternal orphans, except that paternal orphans reported better trusting relationships with caregivers than maternal orphans. Children with a healthy surviving parent reported significantly better depression, loneliness, posttraumatic stress, and social support scores than children with a sick parent. Analyses revealed significance with regard to orphan status on academic marks and trusting relationships with caregivers while controlling for age, gender, surviving parent’s health status, and family SES. Findings underscore the importance of psychosocial support for children whose surviving parent is living with HIV or another illness.
AIDS; China; HIV; maternal orphans; paternal orphans; well-being
This descriptive study examined the relationship between home care nursing support, sleep and daytime functioning in familial caregivers of ventilator-assisted children. Thirty-six primary caregivers (27 mothers, seven fathers, one foster mother, and one grandmother) of ventilator-assisted children completed measures of home nursing support, sleep, depression, fatigue, and daytime sleepiness. Daytime nursing coverage was not related to caregiver sleep or daytime functioning, but caregivers with less nighttime nursing coverage had significantly shorter sleep onset latency than caregivers with some night nursing (16–48 hours/week). Caregivers with regular night nursing (>48 hours/week) had a total sleep time of almost one hour more than caregivers without regular night nursing (≤ 48 hours/week). Caregivers with clinically significant symptoms of depression and sleepiness received significantly fewer hours of night nursing/week than caregivers without significant symptoms of depression or sleepiness. Home nursing support, in particular night nursing, is important for the health and well-being of familial caregivers of ventilator-assisted children.
Home care nursing; caregivers; ventilator-dependent; sleep; functioning
OBJECTIVE: To examine the experiences of men who are sole caregivers for their elderly parents. DESIGN: Semistructured in-depth interviews. SETTING: Family practice clinic attached to a large tertiary care centre in north central Toronto. PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 10 men who identified themselves as sole caregivers in that they had no particular women assisting them with caregiving. METHOD: Interviews were analyzed by standard qualitative methods. MAIN FINDINGS: Emerging themes were the spectrum of caregiving, the experience of caregiving, and the use of formal support systems. Scope of care varied from very little to total care, including personal care. Participants described positive and negative aspects of and the nature of their relationships with those for whom they cared. Avoiding institutionalization was seen as positive; effects on work and social life were negative. Use of more than homemaking services was associated with previous hospitalization; participants complained about difficulties accessing services. CONCLUSIONS: The nature of sons' relationships with their parents and the amount of time they have available can predict how much caregiving they can undertake. Information about community support services is not readily accessible to these men.
To examine the relationship between maternal intimate partner violence (IPV) and asthma onset in children and the role of supportive caregiving factors in modifying this relationship.
Prospective birth cohort.
In-person interview at enrollment as well as in-home interviews during study follow-up.
Children (N=3116) enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.
Maternal-report of IPV assessed after the child’s birth and at 12 and 36 months. In addition mothers indicated how many days a week they participated in activities with the child and the amount and type of educational/recreational toys available for the child.
Maternal-report of physician-diagnosed asthma by age 36 months.
Asthma was diagnosed in 19% of children. In adjusted analysis, children of mothers experiencing IPV chronically, compared to those not exposed, had a 2-fold increased risk of developing asthma. In stratified analysis, children of mothers experiencing IPV and low levels of mother-child activities (RR 2.7, 95% CI 1.6, 4.7) had a significant increased risk for asthma. Those exposed to IPV and high levels of mother-child activities had a lower risk for asthma (RR 1.6, 95% CI 0.9, 3.2). A similar buffering effect was noted among children with high numbers of educational/recreational toys.
IPV is associated with increased early childhood asthma risk. Maternal ability to maintain positive caregiving processes in this context may buffer the effects of violence on child asthma risk. The best way to promote positive health in toddlers may be to help their mothers.
domestic violence; asthma; parent-child interactions; self-regulation
One-hundred twelve primarily European American and middle-class two-parent families with resident fathers and a 4-year-old child (48% girls) participated in a longitudinal study of associations between coparenting and father involvement. At the initial assessment and one year later, fathers reported on their involvement in play and caregiving activities with the focal child, and coparenting behavior was observed during triadic family interactions. SEM was used to test cross-lagged associations between coparenting behavior and father involvement. Overall, paths from father involvement to coparenting behavior were significant, but paths from coparenting behavior to father involvement were not. Specifically, greater father involvement in play was associated with an increase in supportive and a decrease in undermining coparenting behavior over time. In contrast, greater father involvement in caregiving was associated with a decrease in supportive and an increase in undermining coparenting behavior. Multi-group analysis further showed that these cross-lagged relations did not differ for dual earner families and single (father) earner families, but these relations appeared to differ for families with focal daughters and families with focal sons. These findings highlight the potential for fathering to affect coparenting and the importance of considering the role of contextual factors in coparenting-fathering relations.
father involvement; coparenting; child gender; moderation; longitudinal study
High U.S. incarceration rates have motivated recent research on the negative effects of imprisonment on later employment, earnings, and family relationships. Because most men in jail and prison are fathers, a large number of children may be placed at considerable risk by policies of incarceration. This article examines one dimension of the economic risk faced by children of incarcerated fathers: the reduction in the financial support that they receive. We use a population-based sample of urban children to examine the effects of incarceration on this support. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal regressions indicate that formerly incarcerated men are less likely to contribute to their families, and those who do contribute provide significantly less. The negative effects of incarceration on fathers’ financial support are due not only to the low earnings of formerly incarcerated men but also to their increased likelihood to live apart from their children. Men contribute far less through child support (formal or informal) than they do when they share their earnings within their household, suggesting that the destabilizing effects of incarceration on family relationships place children at significant economic disadvantage.
Incarceration; Fatherhood; Child support
This is a report of post-treatment findings from a completed randomized pilot study testing the preliminary efficacy of The Mothers and Toddlers Program (MTP), a 12 week attachment-based individual parenting therapy for mothers enrolled in substance abuse treatment and caring for children ages birth to 36 months. Forty-seven mothers were randomized to MTP versus the Parent Education Program (PE) – a comparison intervention providing individual case management and child guidance brochures. At post-treatment, MTP mothers demonstrated better reflective functioning in the Parent Development Interview, representational coherence and sensitivity, and caregiving behavior than PE mothers. Partial support was also found for proposed mechanisms of change in the MTP model. Together, preliminary findings suggest that attachment-based interventions may be more effective than traditional parent training for enhancing relationships between substance using women and their young children.
Substance abuse; Parent training; Mother-child relations; Attachment; Intervention
The present study examined mean level similarities and differences as well as correlations between mothers’ and fathers’ attributions regarding successes and failures in caregiving situations and progressive versus authoritarian attitudes.
Interviews were conducted with both mothers and fathers in 77 Swedish families.
Fathers reported higher adult-controlled failure and child-controlled failure attributions than did mothers; these differences remained significant after controlling for parents’ age, education, and possible social desirability bias. Significant positive correlations were found for mothers’ and fathers’ progressive attitudes, authoritarian attitudes, and modernity of attitudes after controlling for parents’ age, education, and possible social desirability bias.
We conclude that in Sweden fathers are more likely to attribute failures in caregiving situations both to themselves and to children than are mothers and that there is moderate concordance between fathers and mothers within the same family in progressive and authoritarian parenting attitudes.
The early adolescent’s state of mind in the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is more closely linked to social interactions with peers, who are unlikely to serve as attachment figures, than it is to (i) qualities of the adolescent’s interactions with parents, (ii) the AAI of the adolescent’s mother, or (iii) the adolescent’s prior Strange Situation behavior. This unexpected finding suggests the value of reconceptualizing AAI autonomy/security as a marker of the adolescent’s capacity for emotion regulation in social interactions. Supporting this, we note that the AAI was originally validated not as a marker of attachment experiences or expectations with one’s caregivers, but as a predictor of caregiving capacity sufficient to produce secure offspring. As such, the AAI may be fruitfully viewed as primarily assessing social emotion regulation capacities that support both strong caregiving skills and strong skills relating with peers.
adolescence; attachment; emotion regulation; peer relations
The association between marital status and health among men has been well-documented, but few studies track health trajectories following family structure transitions among unmarried fathers. Using the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study this paper examines trajectories of paternal self-rated and mental health, focusing on transitions into and out of residential relationships with the child's biological mother or a new partner during a five-year post-birth period (N = 4,331). Continuously married fathers report higher time-specific observed self-rated health and fewer mental health problems than continuously single fathers, controlling for underlying health trajectories. The disparity, however, does not increase over time, providing little support for the marital resource model during these years. Static group differences suggest that resources fathers carry with them into unions may buffer them from the negative effects of union dissolution. The implications of these findings for cohabitation, as well as selection and causation arguments are also discussed.
family structure; marriage; health; fathers
Fatherhood has traditionally been viewed as part of a “package deal” in which a father’s relationship with his child is contingent on his relationship with the mother. We evaluate the accuracy of this hypothesis in light of the high rates of multiple-partner fertility among unmarried parents using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a recent longitudinal survey of nonmarital births in large cities. We examine whether unmarried mothers’ and fathers’ subsequent relationship and parenting transitions are associated with declines in fathers’ contact with their nonresident biological children. We find that father involvement drops sharply after relationships between unmarried parents end. Mothers’ transitions into new romantic partnerships and new parenting roles are associated with larger declines in involvement than fathers’ transitions. Declines in fathers’ involvement following a mother’s relationship or parenting transition are largest when children are young. We discuss the implications of our results for the well-being of nonmarital children and the quality of nonmarital relationships faced with high levels of relationship instability and multiple-partner fertiliy.
The present study sought to examine associations between maternal psychopathology, parental monitoring, and adolescent sexual activity among adolescents in mental health treatment.
Seven hundred and ninety mother-adolescent dyads recruited from adolescent mental health treatment settings completed audio computer-assisted structured interview assessments examining parent psychiatric symptoms, parental monitoring, and adolescent sexual risk behavior. Path analysis was used to examine the associations between variables of interest.
Maternal caregivers who reported more mental health symptoms were more likely to have adolescents who reported recent sex and this relationship was mediated by less parental monitoring.
These findings suggest that maternal caregivers with mental health symptoms may need specific interventions that provide assistance and support in monitoring their teens in order to reduce sexual risk taking among adolescents in mental health treatment.
parents; psychopathology; parental monitoring; sexual risk
Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) among families in China poses many challenges for caregivers and their children. A total of 154 caregivers of HIV/AIDS-affected children were interviewed to examine child behaviour in HIV/AIDS-affected families. Parenting skills were found to be correlated with child delinquency, and this correlation was influenced by the number of children in the family and the child’s age. Illiterate caregivers were more likely to have delinquent children, and parenting skills had less of an association with child delinquency among illiterate caregivers. Study findings underscore the necessity of emphasizing good parenting skills in interventions with caregivers of HIV/AIDS-affected children in China in order to improve child behaviour and overall family well-being.
HIV; China; child behaviour; parenting
The present study examined differences and similarities between Kenyan mothers and fathers in attributions regarding successes and failures in caregiving situations and progressive versus authoritarian attitudes.
Interviews were conducted with both mothers and fathers in 100 two-parent families in Kenya.
Mothers were more likely to make attributions regarding adult-controlled failure in caregiving situations than were fathers, but mothers and fathers did not differ on attributions regarding uncontrollable success, child-controlled failure, or authoritarian or progressive attitudes. Moderate to large correlations were found between mothers and fathers in terms of attributions regarding uncontrollable success, authoritarian attitudes, and modernity of attitudes.
Kenyan mothers and fathers hold very similar attributions for success and failures in caregiving situations as well as parenting attitudes.
Given the documented association between paternal alcoholism and negative parenting behaviors, the purpose of this study was to examine longitudinally whether marital satisfaction mediates this relationship. Participants consisted of 197 families (102 without an alcoholic father, 95 with an alcoholic father) who were assessed at three time points: when children were 12, 24, and 36 months old. Results indicated that paternal alcoholism at 12 months was associated with decreased marital satisfaction at 24 months for both mothers and fathers. Marital satisfaction at 24 months in turn was associated with decreases in parental warmth and sensitivity at 36 months. Furthermore, marital satisfaction mediated the association between paternal alcoholism and parental warmth and sensitivity for both mothers and fathers. The implications of these findings for interventions for alcoholic families are discussed.
Paternal alcoholism; Parenting; Marital satisfaction
The association among mothers’, fathers’, and infants’ risk and cognitive and social behaviors at 24 months was examined using SEM and data on 4,178 on toddlers and their parents from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. There were 3 main findings. First, for cognitive outcomes, maternal risk was directly and indirectly linked to it through maternal sensitivity whereas paternal risk was only indirectly related through maternal sensitivity. Second, for social behaviors, maternal and paternal risks were indirectly linked through maternal sensitivity and father engagement. Third, maternal and paternal levels of risk were linked to maternal supportiveness whereas mothers’ and children’s risk were linked to paternal cognitive stimulation. Implications are that policy makers must take into account effects of mothers’, children’s, and fathers’ risk on young children’s functioning.
Childhood/Children; Early childhood risk; ECLS-B; Fathers; Parenting
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned that non-marital childbearing and marital dissolution were undermining the progress of African Americans. I argue that what Moynihan identified as a race-specific problem in the 1960s has now become a class-based phenomena as well. Using data from a new birth cohort study, I show that unmarried parents come from much more disadvantaged populations than married parents. I further argue that non-marital childbearing reproduces class and racial disparities through its association with partnership instability and multi-partnered fertility. These processes increase in maternal stress and mental health problems, reduce the quality of mothers’ parenting, reduce paternal investments, and ultimately lead to poor outcomes in children. Finally, by spreading fathers’ contributions across multiple households, partnership instability and multi-partnered fertility undermine the importance of individual fathers’ contributions of time and money which is likely to affect the future marriage expectations of both sons and daughters.
Family structure; family instability; poverty; inequality; parenting; child wellbeing
Using longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study (analytic sample N = 712), we investigate how age, adult role acquisition and attainments, family resources, parent-child relationship quality, school attendance, and life events influence support received from parents in young adulthood. Parental assistance was found to be less forthcoming for those who had made greater progress on the road to adulthood, signified by socioeconomic attainment and union formation. The quality of mother-child and father-child relationships affected parental support in different ways, positively for mothers, negatively for fathers. School enrollment, negative life events, and employment problems were associated with a greater likelihood of receiving support. The findings suggest that parents act as “scaffolding” and “safety nets” to aid their children's successful transition to adulthood.
family relations; intergenerational transfers; longitudinal; parent-child relations; social support; transition to adulthood
This study tested a hypothesized model of the relationships among parental depressive symptoms, family process (interparental negativity and negative parenting behavior), child internalizing symptoms and asthma disease activity. One hundred and six children with asthma, aged 7 to 17, participated with their fathers and mothers. Parental depressive symptoms were assessed by self-report. Interparental and parenting behaviors were observed and rated during family discussion tasks. Child internalizing symptoms were assessed by self-report and by clinician interview and rating. Asthma disease activity was assessed according to National Heart Lung and Blood Institute guidelines. Results of structural equation modeling generally supported interparental negativity and negative parenting behavior as mediators linking parental depressive symptoms and child emotional and physical dysfunction. However, paternal and maternal depressive symptoms play their role through different pathways of negative family process.
parental depressive symptoms; interparental negativity; negative parenting; child internalizing symptoms; asthma disease activity
► We investigate care arrangements for children in Vietnamese and Indonesian migrant families. ► Surrogate carers in sending countries are the most disadvantaged in global care chains. ► Care relationships reflect prevailing power hierarchies and norms. ► The study signifies the need to account for local specificities in researching care in the South.
Recent increases in female labour migration in and from Asia have triggered a surge of interest in how the absence of the mother and wife for extended periods of time affects the left-behind family, particularly children, in labour-sending countries. While migration studies in the region have shown that the extended family, especially female relatives, is often called on for support in childcare during the mother’s absence it is not yet clear how childcare arrangements are made. Drawing on in-depth interviews with non-parent carers of left-behind children in Indonesia and Vietnam, the paper aims to unveil complexities and nuances around care in the context of transnational labour migration. In so doing it draws attention to the enduring influence of social norms on the organisation of family life when women are increasingly drawn into the global labour market. By contrasting a predominantly patrilineal East Asian family structure in Vietnam with what is often understood as a bilateral South-East Asian family structure in Indonesia, the paper seeks to provide interesting comparative insights into the adaptive strategies that the transnational family pursues in order to cope with the reproductive vacuum left behind by the migrant mother.
Transnational labour migration; Left-behind children; Family; Care; Southeast Asia
The present study examined associations between parents' levels of acculturation depressive symptoms, family support, and couple relationship quality with coparenting conflict. We also explored the effects of coparenting conflict on parenting and infant social development in a sample of low-income Mexican American (n=735) infants (age 9 months) and their parents. Results indicated that couple conflict was the strongest predictor of coparenting conflict. Coparenting conflict had a significant effect on mother-infant interaction and father engagement. The effects of coparenting on father caregiving varied by father's level of acculturation; when there is high coparenting conflict, more acculturated fathers engaged in more caregiving than less acculturated fathers. Coparenting conflict was not predictive of infant social development.
Mexican American families; Latino families; coparenting; family process; parental engagement/involvement; acculturation; infant development