Father Involvement and Parental Relationship Quality among New Parents: A Reciprocal Relationship?

Daphne C Hernandez, University of Michigan
Rebekah Levine Coley, Boston College
Selva Lewin-Bizan, Boston College

Past research indicates that poor parental relationships serve as a substantial barrier to father involvement, particularly among unmarried and nonresidential fathers. However, transactional models suggest a bidirectional perspective, in which parental relationship quality and father involvement with children influence each other. Focusing on a subset of unmarried parent families (n = 1868) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study uses structural equation modeling to assess the longitudinal, transactional relationships between parental relationship quality and father involvement with children. Results indicate that father involvement and relationship quality are highly correlated and that there is a continuity of both relationship quality and father involvement over time. Furthermore, parental relationship quality predicts an increase in father involvement 18 months later. Policy implications surrounding marriage and father involvement are discussed.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 107: Child Support