When Children Have Two Mothers: The Antecedents and Consequences of Adolescents' Relationships with Nonresident Mothers, Stepmothers, and Resident Fathers

Valarie King, Pennsylvania State University

Using data from a sample of 294 adolescents in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health who live with a biological father and have both a resident stepmother and a nonresident biological mother, this study examines the prevalence, antecedents, and consequences of adolescents’ closeness to each of their parents. Findings demonstrate that adolescents vary in their likelihood of having close relationships to resident fathers, resident stepmothers, and nonresident biological mothers, but when they can do so, they appear to benefit. Close relationships with both resident fathers and nonresident mothers are associated with fewer adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems, with ties to resident fathers being particularly consequential. Closeness to resident stepmothers, however, is unrelated to these two outcomes.

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Presented in Session 25: Child Wellbeing in Nontraditional Households