Maternal Repartnering and Parenting Behaviors in Fragile Families

Lawrence M. Berger, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sharon Bzostek, Rutgers University

This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and Hierarchical Linear Models to examine links between the relationship trajectories of unmarried mothers who are no longer in romantically involved with their children’s biological father and these mothers’ parenting behaviors over their child’s first nine years of life. We pay close attention to both the types of relationship transitions mothers experience, with a particular focus on whether a mother repartners with a social father, and the timing at which the transitions occur. Preliminary results suggest that maternal repartnering is associated with increases in both punitive discipline and psychological aggression and that moving in with the child’s biological father is associated with increased punitive discipline. At the same, however, stable residence with a social father is associated with higher levels of maternal emotional responsiveness. We find little evidence that the adverse effects of transitions fade over time.

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Presented in Session 145: Families and Well-Being