Family Structure and Mothers' Parenting
Audrey N. Beck, Princeton University
We use data from the Fragile Families Study (N=3872) to examine the relationship between changes in family structure and the observed maternal parenting behaviors experienced by children between birth and age 5. In an improvement on previous studies, we consider the impact of exiting, entering, and undergoing a series of relationship transitions, as well as the level of formality of the relationship, including nonresident and coresident relationships. Using path analysis, we focus on whether early transitions have a persistent direct effect on parenting and/or whether these transitions have an indirect effect on later parenting via their effects on earlier parenting behavior. Preliminary analyses suggest that there are both direct and indirect effects of family change on parenting, the direction of these effects differs by a number of transition characteristics.