Abstract

We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to investigate the association between coparenting quality and nonresident fathers’ involvement with children over the first five years after a nonmarital birth. We find that about one year after a nonmarital birth, 48% of fathers are living away from their child, rising to 56% and then to 63% at three and five years, respectively. Using structural equation models to estimate cross-lagged effects, we find that positive coparenting is a strong predictor of nonresident fathers’ future involvement, whereas fathers’ involvement is only a weak (but significant) predictor of future coparenting quality. The positive effect of coparenting quality on fathers’ involvement is robust across several techniques designed to address unobserved heterogeneity and across different strategies for handling missing data. We conclude that parents’ ability to work together in rearing their common child across households helps keep nonresident fathers connected to their children and that programs aimed at improving parents’ ability to communicate may have benefits for children irrespective of whether the parents’ romantic relationship remains intact.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.

References

Ahrons, C.R. (
1981
).
The Continuing Co-Parental Relationship Between Divorced Parents
.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
,
51
,
415
28
. 10.1111/j.1939-0025.1981.tb01390.x
Ahrons, C.R., & Miller, R.B. (
1993
).
The Effect of the Postdivorce Relationship on Paternal Involvement: A Longitudinal Analysis
.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
,
63
,
441
50
. 10.1037/h0079446
Allen, S.M., & Hawkins, A.J. (
1999
).
Maternal Gatekeeping: Mothers’ Beliefs and Behaviors That Inhibit Greater Involvement in Family Work
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
61
,
199
212
. 10.2307/353894
Allison, P.D. (
2002
).
Missing Data. Series: Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences
.
Thousand Oaks, CA
:
Sage Publications
.
Amato, P.R. (
2005
).
The Impact of Family Formation Change on the Cognitive, Social, and Emotional Wellbeing of the Next Generation
.
The Future of Children
,
15
,
75
96
. 10.1353/foc.2005.0012
Amato, P.R., & Gilbreth, J.G. (
1999
).
Nonresident Fathers and Children’s Well-being: A Meta-Analysis
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
61
,
557
73
. 10.2307/353560
Argys, L.M., & Peters, H.E. (
2001
).
Patterns of Nonresident-Father Involvement
. In Michael, R.T. (Ed.),
Social Awakening: Adolescent Behavior as Adulthood Approaches
(pp.
49
78
).
New York
:
Russell Sage Foundation
.
Argys, L.M., Peters, E., Cook, S., Garasky, S., Nepomnyaschy, L., & Sorenson, E. (
2007
).
Measuring Contact Between Children and Nonresident Fathers
. In Hofferth, S.L., & Casper, L.M. (Eds.),
Handbook of Measurement Issues in Family Research
(pp.
375
98
).
Mahwah, NJ
:
Erlbaum
.
Belsky, J., & Hsieh, K.-H. (
1998
).
Patterns of Marital Change During the Early Childhood Years: Parent Personality, Coparenting, and Division-of-Labor Correlates
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
12
,
511
28
. 10.1037/0893-3200.12.4.511
Belsky, J., Putnam, S., & Crnic, K. (
1996
).
Coparenting, Parenting, and Early Emotional Development
. In McHale, J.P., & Cowan, P.A. (Eds.),
New Directions for Child Development: Vol. 74. Understanding How Family-Level Dynamics Affect Children’s Development: Studies of Two-Parent Families
(pp.
45
55
).
San Francisco
:
Jossey-Bass
.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (
1986
).
Ecology of the Family as a Context for Human Development: Research Perspectives
.
Developmental Psychology
,
22
,
723
42
. 10.1037/0012-1649.22.6.723
Cabrera, N.J., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S., Bradley, R.H., Hofferth, S.L., & Lamb, M.E. (
2000
).
Fatherhood in the Twenty-First Century
.
Child Development
,
71
,
127
36
. 10.1111/1467-8624.00126
Caldera, Y.M., & Lindsey, E.W. (
2006
).
Coparenting, Mother-Infant Interaction, and Infant-Parent Attachment Relationships in Two-Parent Families
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
20
,
275
83
. 10.1037/0893-3200.20.2.275
Carlson, M.J. (
2006
).
Family Structure, Father Involvement, and Adolescent Behavioral Outcomes
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
68
,
137
54
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00239.x
Cherlin, A.J. (
1992
).
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Cherlin, A.J. (
1999
).
Going to Extremes: Family Structure, Children’s Well-being, and Social Science
.
Demography
,
36
,
421
28
. 10.2307/2648081
Cohen, J. (
1977
).
Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences
.
New York
:
Academic Press
.
Coley, R.L., & Morris, J.E. (
2002
).
Comparing Father and Mother Reports of Father Involvement Among Low-Income Minority Fathers
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
64
,
982
97
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00982.x
Cooksey, E.C., & Craig, P.H. (
1998
).
Parenting From a Distance: The Effects of Paternal Characteristics on Contact Between Nonresidential Fathers and Their Children
.
Demography
,
35
,
187
200
. 10.2307/3004051
Cooksey, E.C., & Fondell, M.M. (
1996
).
Spending Time With His Kids: Effects of Family Structure on Fathers’ and Children’s Lives
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
58
,
693
707
. 10.2307/353729
Cowan, C.P., Cowan, P.A., Kline Pruett, M., & Pruett, K. (
2007
).
An Approach to Preventing Coparenting Conflict and Divorce in Low-Income Families: Strengthening Couple Relationships and Fostering Fathers’ Involvement
.
Family Process
,
46
,
109
21
. 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2006.00195.x
Cowan, P.A., & McHale, J.P. (
1996
).
Coparenting in a Family Context: Emerging Achievements, Current Dilemmas, and Future Directions
. In McHale, J.P., & Cowan, P.A. (Eds.),
New Directions for Child Development: Vol. 74. Understanding How Family-Level Dynamics Affect Children’s Development: Studies of Two-Parent Families
(pp.
93
106
).
San Francisco
:
Jossey-Bass
.
DeKlyen, M., Brooks-Gunn, J., McLanahan, S., & Knab, J. (
2006
).
The Mental Health of Married, Cohabiting, and Non-Coresident Parents With Infants
.
American Journal of Public Health
,
96
,
1836
41
. 10.2105/AJPH.2004.049296
Report to Congress on Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing
. (
1995
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Government Printing Office
.
Dion, M.R. (
2005
).
Healthy Marriage Programs: Learning What Works
.
The Future of Children
,
15
,
137
256
. 10.1353/foc.2005.0016
Emery, R.E., Laumann-Billings, L., Waldron, M.C., Sbarra, D.A., & Dillon, P. (
2001
).
Child Custody Mediation and Litigation: Custody, Contact, and Coparenting 12 Years After Initial Dispute Resolution
.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
,
69
,
323
32
. 10.1037/0022-006X.69.2.323
England, P., & Farkas, G. (
1986
).
Households, Employment and Gender: A Social, Economic, and Demographic View
.
New York
:
Aldine
.
Floyd, F.J., Gilliom, L.A., & Costigan, C.L. (
1998
).
Marriage and Parenting Alliance: Longitudinal Prediction of Change in Parenting Perceptions and Behaviors
.
Child Development
,
69
,
1461
79
. 10.2307/1132278
Furstenberg, F.F. (
1988
).
Good Dads—Bad Dads: Two Faces of Fatherhood
. In Cherlin, A.J. (Ed.),
The Changing American Family and Public Policy
(pp.
193
209
).
Washington, DC
:
The Urban Institute
.
Furstenberg, F.F., & Cherlin, A. (
1991
).
Divided Families: What Happens to Children When Parents Part
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Furstenberg, F.F., & Harris, K.M. (
1993
).
When Fathers Matter/Why Fathers Matter
. In Lerman, R.I., & Ooms, T.J. (Eds.),
Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies
(pp.
117
38
).
Philadelphia
:
Temple University Press
.
Furstenberg, F.F., Morgan, S.P., & Allison, P.D. (
1987
).
Paternal Participation and Children’s Well-being After Marital Dissolution
.
American Sociological Review
,
52
,
695
701
. 10.2307/2095604
Furstenberg, F.F., & Nord, C.W. (
1985
).
Parenting Apart: Patterns of Childrearing After Marital Disruption
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
47
,
893
904
. 10.2307/352332
Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S.S., & Hanson, T.L. (
1998
).
A Patchwork Portrait of Nonresident Fathers
. In Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S.S., Meyer, D.R., & Seltzer, J.A. (Eds.),
Fathers Under Fire: The Revolution in Child Support Enforcement
(pp.
31
59
).
New York
:
Russell Sage Foundation
.
Graefe, D.R., & Lichter, D.T. (
1999
).
Life Course Transitions of American Children: Parental Cohabitation, Marriage, and Single Motherhood
.
Demography
,
36
,
205
17
. 10.2307/2648109
Greene, W.H. (
2003
).
Econometric Analysis
.
Upper Saddle River, NJ
:
Prentice Hall
.
Harris, K.M., & Morgan, S.P. (
1991
).
Fathers, Sons and Daughters: Differential Paternal Involvement in Parenting
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
53
,
531
44
. 10.2307/352730
Hayden, L.C., Schiller, M., Dickstein, S., Seifer, R., Sameroff, S., Miller, I., Keitner, G., & Rasmussen, S. (
1998
).
Levels of Family Assessment: I. Family, Marital, and Parent-Child Interaction
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
12
,
7
22
. 10.1037/0893-3200.12.1.7
Heckman, J.J. (
1979
).
Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error
.
Econometrica
,
47
,
153
61
. 10.2307/1912352
Katz, L.F., & Low, S.M. (
2004
).
Marital Violence, Co-Parenting, and Family-Level Processes in Relation to Children’s Adjustment
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
18
,
372
82
. 10.1037/0893-3200.18.2.372
King, V. (
1994
).
Variation in the Consequences of Nonresident Father Involvement for Children’s Well-being
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
56
,
963
72
. 10.2307/353606
King, V. (
2003
).
The Influence of Religion on Fathers’ Relationships with Their Children
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
65
,
382
95
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00382.x
King, V., Harris, K.M., & Heard, H.E. (
2004
).
Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Nonresident Father Involvement
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
66
,
1
21
.
King, V., & Sobolewski, J.M. (
2006
).
Nonresident Fathers’ Contributions to Adolescent Well-being
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
68
,
537
57
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00274.x
Lamb, M.E. (
2004
).
The Role of the Father in Child Development
.
New York
:
John Wiley & Sons
.
Landale, N.S., & Oropesa, R.S. (
2001
).
Father Involvement in the Lives of Mainland Puerto Rican Children: Contributions of Nonresident, Cohabiting and Married Fathers
.
Social Forces
,
79
,
945
68
. 10.1353/sof.2001.0014
Lerman, R.I. (
1993
).
A National Profile of Young Unwed Fathers
. In Lerman, R.I., & Ooms, T.J. (Eds.),
Young Unwed Fathers: Changing Roles and Emerging Policies
(pp.
27
51
).
Philadelphia
:
Temple University Press
.
Lerman, R., & Sorenson, E. (
2000
).
Father Involvement With Their Nonmarital Children: Patterns, Determinants, and Effects on Their Earnings
.
Marriage and Family Review
,
29
,
137
58
. 10.1300/J002v29n02_09
Maccoby, E.E., Depner, C.E., & Mnookin, R.H. (
1990
).
Coparenting in the Second Year After Divorce
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
52
,
141
55
. 10.2307/352846
Maccoby, E.E., & Mnookin, R.H. (
1992
).
Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Manning, W.D., & Smock, P.J. (
1999
).
New Families and Nonresident Father-Child Visitation
.
Social Forces
,
78
,
87
116
. 10.2307/3005791
Manning, W.D., Stewart, S.D., & Smock, P.J. (
2003
).
The Complexity of Fathers’ Parenting Responsibilities and Involvement With Nonresident Children
.
Journal of Family Issues
,
24
,
645
67
. 10.1177/0192513X03024005004
Margolin, G., Gordis, E.B., & John, R.S. (
2001
).
Coparenting: A Link Between Marital Conflict and Parenting in Two-Parent Families
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
15
,
3
21
. 10.1037/0893-3200.15.1.3
Marsiglio, W., Amato, P., Day, R.D., & Lamb, M.E. (
2000
).
Scholarship on Fatherhood in the 1990s and Beyond
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
62
,
1173
91
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01173.x
Martin, J.A., B.E. Hamilton, P.D. Sutton, S.J. Ventura, F. Menacker, and S. Kirmeyer. 2006. Births: Final Data for 2004, Vol. 55. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.
McHale, J.P. (
1995
).
Coparenting and Triadic Interactions During Infancy: The Roles of Marital Distress and Child Gender
.
Developmental Psychology
,
31
,
985
96
. 10.1037/0012-1649.31.6.985
McHale, J.P., Johnson, D., & Sinclair, R. (
1999
).
Family Dynamics, Preschoolers’ Family Representations, and Preschool Peer Relationships
.
Early Education and Development
,
10
,
373
401
. 10.1207/s15566935eed1003_8
McHale, J.P., Kuersten-Hogan, R., Lauretti, A., & Rasmussen, J.L. (
2000
).
Parental Reports of Coparenting and Observed Coparenting Behavior During the Toddler Period
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
14
,
220
36
. 10.1037/0893-3200.14.2.220
McLanahan, S. (
2004
).
Diverging Destinies: How Children Are Faring Under the Second Demographic Transition
.
Demography
,
41
,
607
27
. 10.1353/dem.2004.0033
McLanahan, S., I. Garfinkel, N. Reichman, J. Teitler, M. Carlson, and C. Norland Audigier. 2003. “The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study: Baseline National Report.” Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Princeton University.
McLanahan, S., & Sandefur, G. (
1994
).
Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts? What Helps?
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
McLanahan, S.S., Seltzer, J.A., Hanson, T.L., & Thomson, E. (
1994
).
Child Support Enforcement and Child Well-being: Greater Security or Greater Conflict?
. In Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S.S., & Robins, P.K. (Eds.),
Child Support and Child Well-being
(pp.
239
56
).
Washington, DC
:
Urban Institute Press
.
Meadows, S., McLanahan, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (
2007
).
Parental Depression and Anxiety and Early Childhood Behavior Problems Across Family Types
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
69
,
1162
77
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00439.x
Minuchin, P. (
1988
).
Relationships Within the Family: A Systems Perspective on Development
. In Hinde, R.A., & Stevenson-Hinde, J. (Eds.),
Relationships Within Families: Mutual Influences
(pp.
7
26
).
New York
:
Oxford University Press
.
Minuchin, S. (
1974
).
Families and Family Therapy
.
Cambridge, MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Mott, F.L. (
1990
).
When Is a Father Really Gone? Paternal-Child Contact in Father-Absent Homes
.
Demography
,
27
,
499
517
. 10.2307/2061567
Muthén, L.K., & Muthén, B.O. (
2006
).
MPlus User’s Guide
.
Los Angeles, CA
:
Muthén & Muthén
.
Nepomnyaschy, L. (
2007
).
Child Support and Father-Child Contact: Testing Reciprocal Pathways
.
Demography
,
44
,
93
112
. 10.1353/dem.2007.0008
Osborne, C., & McLanahan, S. (
2007
).
Partnership Instability and Child Well-being
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
69
,
1065
83
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00431.x
Reichman, N., Teitler, J., Garfinkel, I., & McLanahan, S. (
2001
).
Fragile Families: Sample and Design
.
Children and Youth Services Review
,
23
,
303
26
. 10.1016/S0190-7409(01)00141-4
Rossi, A.S., & Rossi, P.H. (
1990
).
Of Human Bonding: Parent-Child Relations Across the Life Course
.
New York
:
Aldine de Gruyter
.
Royston, P. (
2004
).
Multiple Imputation of Missing Values
.
Stata Journal
,
4
,
227
41
.
Rubin, D. (
1976
).
Inference and Missing Data
.
Biometrika
,
63
,
581
92
. 10.1093/biomet/63.3.581
Rubin, D. (
1987
).
Multiple Imputation for Nonresponse in Surveys
.
New York
:
John Wiley & Sons
.
Schoppe, S.J., Mangelsdorf, S.C., & Frosch, C.A. (
2001
).
Coparenting, Family Process, and Family Structure: Implications for Preschoolers’ Externalizing Behavior Problems
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
15
,
526
45
. 10.1037/0893-3200.15.3.526
Schoppe-Sullivan, S.J., Mangelsdorf, S.C., Frosch, C.A., & McHale, J.L. (
2004
).
Associations Between Coparenting and Marital Behavior From Infancy to the Preschool Years
.
Journal of Family Psychology
,
18
,
194
207
. 10.1037/0893-3200.18.1.194
Seltzer, J.A. (
1991
).
Relationships Between Fathers and Children Who Live Apart: The Father’s Role After Separation
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
53
,
79
101
. 10.2307/353135
Seltzer, J.A., & Bianchi, S.M. (
1988
).
Children’s Contact With Absent Parents
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
50
,
663
77
. 10.2307/352636
Seltzer, J.A., & Brandreth, Y. (
1995
).
What Fathers Say About Involvement With Children After Separation
. In Marsiglio, W. (Ed.),
Fatherhood: Contemporary Theory, Research and Social Policy
(pp.
166
92
).
Thousand Oaks, CA
:
Sage Publications
.
Seltzer, J.A., McLanahan, S.S., & Hanson, T.L. (
1998
).
Will Child Support Enforcement Increase Father-Child Contact and Parental Conflict after Separation?
. In Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S.S., Meyer, D.R., & Seltzer, J.A. (Eds.),
Fathers Under Fire: The Revolution in Child Support Enforcement
(pp.
157
90
).
New York
:
Russell Sage Foundation
.
Simons, R.L., Whitbeck, L.B., Conger, R.D., & Melby, J.N. (
1990
).
Husband and Wife Differences in Determinants of Parenting: A Social Learning and Exchange Model of Parental Behavior
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
52
,
375
92
. 10.2307/353033
Snijders, T.A.B. (
2005
).
Fixed and Random Effects
. In Everitt, B.S., & Howell, D.C. (Eds.),
Encyclopedia of Statistics in Behavioral Science
(pp.
664
65
).
Chicester, United Kingdom
:
John Wiley & Sons
.
Sobolewski, J.M., & King, V. (
2005
).
The Importance of the Coparental Relationship for Nonresident Fathers’ Ties to Children
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
67
,
1196
212
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00210.x
Townsend, N.W. (
2002
).
The Package Deal: Marriage, Work and Fatherhood in Men’s Lives
.
Philadelphia
:
Temple University Press
.
Ventura, S., & Bachrach, C. (
2000
).
Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1949–99
.
Hyattsville, MD
:
National Center for Health Statistics
.
Walker, A.J., & McGraw, L.A. (
2000
).
Who Is Responsible for Responsible Fathering?
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
62
,
563
69
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00563.x
Wallerstein, J.S., & Kelly, J.B. (
1980
).
Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope With Divorce
.
New York
:
Basic Books
.
Western, B., Lopoo, L., & McLanahan, S. (
2004
).
Incarceration and the Bonds Among Parents in Fragile Families
. In Pattillo, M., Weiman, D., & Western, B. (Eds.),
The Impact of Incarceration on Families and Communities
(pp.
21
45
).
New York
:
Russell Sage Foundation
.
Wilcox, W.B. (
2002
).
Religion, Convention, and Paternal Involvement
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
64
,
780
92
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00780.x
Wothke, W. (
2000
).
Longitudinal and Multi-Group Modeling With Missing Data
. In Little, T.D., Schnabel, K.U., & Baumert, J. (Eds.),
Modeling Longitudinal and Multilevel Data: Practical Issues, Applied Approaches, and Specific Examples
(pp.
219
40
).
Mahwah, NJ
:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
.
Wu, L.L., & Wolfe, B. (
2001
).
Out of Wedlock: Causes and Consequences of Nonmarital Fertility
.
New York
:
Russell Sage Foundation
.