The implications of resident mothers’ repartnering for children’s closeness and involvement with nonresident fathers
Hurley, Kathleen Anne
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With around 50 percent of all dissolving marriages consisting of families with children, and around half of residential parents reporting some experience with dating new partners within 60 days of filing for divorce, there is a need to understand the influences on children’s relationships and the possible consequences or benefits that may be imposed on children due to not only divorce, but additional parental transitions such as repartnering. In this study, I used data from the Texas Families Project, a longitudinal, multi-informant, multi-method study, to examine the implications of mothers’ repartnering for children’s closeness and involvement with nonresident fathers. Resident mother’s dating status alone does not seem to impact children’s closeness and involvement with their nonresident fathers as much as the new relationship that children are forming with their mothers’ partners impacts these relationships. Mothers’ and children’s reports differ, providing competing results as to whether or not children’s relationships with their mothers’ partners is associated with changes in children’s relationships with their fathers. Children report a positive relationship between involvement with their mothers’ romantic partners and involvement with their nonresident fathers, suggesting that both children’s biological fathers and their alternative caretaker play a valuable role in their lives. Mothers’ reports show that there is a negative relationship between the amount of time spent with their mothers’ romantic partner and positive involvement with children’s nonresident father, suggesting that children could be substituting time with their fathers for time with their mothers’ romantic partner. Although contact may decrease due to the child and mothers’ romantic partner relationship, child’s closeness to their father is not affected, supporting research that states that children may continue to feel close to their fathers even when contact is low.