Parenting Complexity and Indicators of Relationship Quality among Young Adults

Monica A. Longmore, Bowling Green State University
Peggy C. Giordano, Bowling Green State University

The diversity of American family life has been well documented resulting in complex parenting responsibilities that extend beyond a traditional configuration, two biological parents raising only their shared biological children. We investigated the influence of couple-level parenting complexity (no children, only shared children, any non-shared children) on relationship strains (financial, trust, and time) as well as indicators of relationship quality (satisfaction, verbal conflict, and physical aggression). Respondents included 500 young adults in opposite-sex marital and cohabiting unions (Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study). Parenthood, itself, is associated with greater strains and conflict and lower relationship satisfaction. Couples with non-shared children reported higher strains and lower relationship quality. We expect that relationship strains will mediate a share of the parenting complexity associations. We discuss measurement and theoretical issues that may guide future research on parenthood and parenting complexity.

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Presented in Session 226: Fertility in Complex Families