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Parents’ Relationship Quality and Children’s Behavior in Married and Cohabiting Families

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  • Julia S. Goldberg

    (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

  • Marcia J. Carlson

    (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

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    Abstract

    While an extensive literature has shown that family structure is linked with child wellbeing, less well understood is how the dynamics within families affect children. Family systems theory posits that parents’ couple relationship is important for children’s well-being. In this paper, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 773) to examine how couple supportiveness in co-resident families is related to children’s externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems from child ages 3 to 9. Using latent growth curve and fixed effects models, we find that parents’ greater supportiveness is modestly associated with lower levels of children’s behavioral problems. Using cross-lagged structural equation models to examine the direction of the association, we find some evidence that relationship quality and children’s behavioral problems are reciprocally related. Overall, our study suggests that more positive couple interactions are beneficial for children residing with both of their biological parents.

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    File URL: http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP13-08-FF.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1463.

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    Date of creation: May 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp13-08-ff

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    Related research

    Keywords: Child Development; Family Process; Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS); Marital Status; Relationship Quality;

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    1. Patrick Royston, 2004. "Multiple imputation of missing values," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 227-241, September.
    2. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan, 2004. "Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 569-584, August.
    3. Conti, Gabriella & Heckman, James J., 2012. "The Economics of Child Well-Being," IZA Discussion Papers 6930, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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