Do Relationship and Child Characteristics Predict Supportive Coparenting After Relationship Dissolution Among At-Risk Parents?
Cooperative coparenting after relationship dissolution has been shown to be associated with increased father involvement which can buffer against the negative effects of parental relationship dissolution. Low-income, at-risk families are much more likely to experience relationship dissolutions; hence, coparenting after dissolution is particularly important in these families. We examined whether relationship and child characteristics predicted initial levels of, and change in, supportive coparenting following dissolution in the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (N = 1603). Ninety-percent of the mothers in this at-risk sample had non-marital births, and about three-quarters had a high school diploma or less education. Overall, supportive coparenting decreased over time after relationship dissolution. Mothers in more committed pre-dissolution relationships initially had significantly lower supportive coparenting. But over time, mothers who had been in more committed relationships increased in supportive coparenting. Higher quality pre-dissolution relationships were initially associated with less supportive coparenting as well. At each time point, if a mother was romantically involved with a new partner, she reported significantly lower supportive coparenting compared to mothers who were not romantically involved. With regard to child characteristics, mothers who reported their child as more difficult initially had significantly lower supportive coparenting. Overall, the relationship characteristics of mothers were important predictors of supportive coparenting both initially and over time.
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