Family Instability and Parent-Child Relationship Quality

Katherine C. Stamps, Pennsylvania State University

American families have undergone tremendous change in the past few decades, and many of today’s children experience two or more family structures over the course of their childhood. Yet we know relatively little about the effects of these multiple transitions on children’s lives. We focus on the effect of multiple family transitions on mother-child relationship quality. The mother-child relationship may be especially important for child well-being among children who experience multiple transitions because the mother is often the only constant parent figure, yet high levels of family instability may negatively influence the quality of the mother-child bond. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we investigate how the number and type of family structure transitions, including transitions involving cohabiting relationships, affect children’s relationships with their resident mothers. We also examine whether child gender, age, or race moderate the effect of family instability on mother-child relationship quality.

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Presented in Poster Session 1