Does Maternal Multipartnered Fertility Affect the Mother-Child Relationship?

Karen B. Guzzo, Bowling Green State University
Cassandra J. Dorius, Iowa State University

Multipartnered fertility (MPF) is widely considered detrimental to family and child well-being, yet the mechanisms by which MPF may affect well-being are unclear. We suggest that due to the higher instability and greater complexity of families with MPF, children with half-siblings may have a weaker mother-child relationship than children with only full siblings. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY) and drawing from both mother’s and children’s reports, we compare the perceptions of firstborn children with younger siblings from MPF and single-partner fertility (SPF) homes regarding how much their mothers monitor and spend time with them, how close they feel to their mother and how much they share with their mother, and how often they perceive their mother missing important events. The NLSY provides rich background information and data on family instability and transitions to more accurately allow us to isolate the effects of MPF from other factors.

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Presented in Session 15: Family Structure, Parenting, and Child Well-Being