The impact of marital supports on parenting, and child behavior in nondivorced versus remarried families
Hagan, Margaret Stanley, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Hetherington, E. Mavis, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Emery, Robert E., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Phillips, Deborah, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Nock, Steven, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
This study used data from a longitudinal study of adjustment to remarriage to assess: (a) the differences between the marital relationships assessed in terms of economic, parenting, emotional, and practical spousal supports, in nondivorced versus remarried families; (b) the impact of the marital supports on parenting; and (c) the relative influences of marital supports and child behavior on parenting. Of particular interest was how the pattern of relationships among family subsystems in both nondivorced and remarried families changed as children entered adolescence and as remarried families concurrently handled the stresses associated with stepfamily formation. Seventy-five nondivorced and 58 remarried white, middle-class families were studied. All remarried families were mother-custody stepfather families and were assessed three times during the two and one half years following remarriage. Nondivorced families were assessed at equivalent times. Each family has a target child who was between nine and thirteen at the time of the first assessment.
Compared to nondivorced spouses, remarried husbands and wives rated themselves higher on marital satisfaction but only in the months immediately following remarriage. At all three time points, remarried husbands and wives rated their spouses lower on parental warmth, control, and monitoring than did their nondivorced counterparts which may reflect a recognition of problems existing in The parent-child subsystems following the marital transition rather than substantive differences in the marital relationship itself. At all three time points, the relationships between marital supports and parental warmth, control, and monitoring and parent-child conflict were clearer and more stable in nondivorced families than in remarried families. This stability failed to reflect adjustments in the relationships between family subsystems as children moved into adolescence. Moreover, the relative instability among stepfamily subsystems provided evidence that these families had not restabilized two and one half years after the marital transition. Different types of marital supports were found to be related to different dimensions of parenting. In addition, the relationships between marital supports and parenting differed for husbands and wives. Finally in virtually all comparisons, relative to child behaviors, marital supports were found to be stronger related to parenting.
PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
parent-child relationships, step-parenting
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