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Adolescent and Young Adult Mothers' Relationship Quality During the Transition to Parenthood: Associations with Father Involvement in Fragile Families

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 36 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 213-224
Christina B. Gee; Christopher M. McNerney; Michael J. Reiter; Suzanne C. Leaman
Date Published
February 2007
12 pages
Data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study were used to identify predictors of fathers' involvement in the lives of young children (n=2,215) born to adolescent and young adult mothers (ages 14-25, n=2,850).
The study found that living with his child was the strongest predictor of a father's involvement in his child's life. The quality of the relationship between the mother and father in the 3-year period after the birth of the child was also a significant predictor of the father's involvement in the child's care. African-American parents reported lower relationship quality at the child's birth than Caucasian and Latino counterparts, but there were no significant racial differences in the quality of parental relationships 3 years after the birth. African-American mothers and fathers both reported less father involvement in the child's care at the time of the birth (baseline). Fathers who had less personal income from regular employment at baseline were more involved with their children at the 3-year follow-up. The authors note that understanding the processes that influence various aspects of fathering will assist policymakers and clinicians in supporting adolescent and young-adult parents during the transition to parenthood and throughout their children's lives. Mothers were recruited from hospitals that had the highest number of births to unmarried mothers in the 20 selected U.S. cities. Unmarried parents were oversampled. Mothers completed their first interview within 48 hours of their child's birth, and fathers completed interviews when possible. Follow-up interviews were conducted with mothers and fathers approximately 3 years after the child's birth. In the initial and follow-up interviews, information was obtained on the quality of the relationship between the parents, the father's involvement in the care of the child, and the father's material support for the child at the 3-year follow-up. 3 tables and 39 references