Date: 04 Jan 2012
Family Structure Transitions and Changes in Maternal Resources and Well-being
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
This article uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine whether family instability is associated with changes in perceived social support, material hardship, maternal depression, and parenting stress among mothers of young children. In addition to accounting for the number of transitions that a mother experiences during the first five years of her child’s life, we pay close attention to the type and timing of these transitions. We find that mothers who transition to cohabitation or marriage with their child’s biological father experience declines in material hardship and that those who transition to cohabitation or marriage with another man exhibit modest declines in both material hardship and depression. Mothers who exit cohabiting or marital relationships encounter decreases in perceived social support and increases in material hardship, depression, and parenting stress. Overall, our results suggest that both the type and, to a much lesser degree, the timing of family structure transitions may influence maternal well-being.
Acock, A., & Demo, D. (1994). Family diversity and well-being. Thousand Oaks, CA: Russell Sage.
Amato, P. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1269–1287.CrossRef
Amato, P. (2005). The impact of family formation change on the cognitive, social, and emotional well-being of the next generation. The Future of Children, 15, 75–96.CrossRef
Avellar, S., & Smock, P. (2005). The economic consequences of the dissolution of cohabiting unions. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 315–327.CrossRef
Bauserman, R. (2002). Child adjustment in joint custody versus sole custody arrangements: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 91–102.CrossRef
Beck, A., Cooper, C., McLanahan, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2010). Partnership transitions and maternal parenting. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 219–233.CrossRef
Berger, L., Brown, P., Joung, E., Melli, M., & Wimer, L. (2008). The stability of child physical placements following divorce: Descriptive evidence from Wisconsin. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 273–283.CrossRef
Brody, G., Neubaum, F., & Forehand, R. (1988). Serial marriage: A heuristic analysis of an emerging family form. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 211–222.CrossRef
Brown, B. (2000a). The single-father family: Demographic, economic, and public transfer use characteristics. Marriage & Family Review, 29, 203–220.CrossRef
Brown, S. (2000b). The effect of union type on psychological well-being: Depression among cohabitors versus marrieds. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41, 241–255.CrossRef
Bryk, A., & Raudenbush, S. (1992). Hierarchical linear models for social and behavioral research: Applications and data analysis methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
Cavanaugh, S., & Huston, A. (2006). Family instability and children’s early problem behavior. Social Forces, 85, 575–605.
Cherlin, A., Furstenberg, F., Chase-Lansdale, L., Kiernan, K., Robins, P., Morrison, D., & Teitler, J. (1991). Longitudinal studies of effects of divorce on children in Great Britain and the United States. Science, 7, 1386–1389.CrossRef
Cooper, C., McLanahan, S., Meadows, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2009). Family structure transitions and maternal parenting stress. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 558–574.CrossRef
Ellwood, D., & Jencks, C. (2004). The spread of single-parent families in the United States since 1960. In D. P. Moynihan, T. Smeeding, & L. Rainwater (Eds.), The future of the family (pp. 25–65). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Fomby, P., & Cherlin, A. (2007). Family instability and child well-being. American Sociological Review, 72, 181–204.CrossRef
George, L. (1989). Stress, social support, and depression over the life course. In K. S. Markides & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Aging, stress and health (pp. 241–268). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
George, L. (1993). Sociological perspectives on life transitions. Annual Review of Sociology, 19, 353–373.CrossRef
Holmes, T., & Rahe, R. (1967). Social readjustment rating scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11, 213–218.CrossRef
Kessler, R., Andrews, G., Mroczek, D., Ustun, T., & Wittchen, H.-U. (1998). The World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF). International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 7(4), 171–185.CrossRef
Kreider, R. (2008). Living arrangements of children: 2004 (Current Population Reports, Series P70, No. 114). Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
Levine, S. (1980). A Coping model of mother-infant relationships. In S. Levine & H. Ursin (Eds.), Coping and health (pp. 87–99). New York: Plenum.
Magnuson, K., & Berger, L. (2009). Family structure states and transitions: Associations with children’s well-being during middle childhood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 575–591.CrossRef
Maier, S., & Seligman, M. (1976). Learned helplessness: Theory and evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 105, 3–46.
Manning, W., & Brown, S. (2006). Children’s economic well-being in married and cohabiting parent families. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 345–362.CrossRef
McLanahan, S., & Percheski, C. (2008). Family structure and the reproduction of inequalities. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 257–276.CrossRef
Meadows, S., McLanahan, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2008). Stability and changes in family structures and maternal health trajectories. American Sociological Review, 73, 314–334.CrossRef
Mineka, S., & Kihlstrom, J. (1978). Unpredictable and uncontrollable events: A new perspective on experimental neurosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 256–271.CrossRef
Morrison, D., & Ritualo, A. (2000). Routes to children’s economic recovery after divorce: Are cohabitation and remarriage equivalent? American Sociological Review, 65, 560–580.CrossRef
Osborne, C., & McLanahan, S. (2007). Partnership instability and child well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 1065–1083.CrossRef
Reichman, N., Teitler, J., Garfinkel, I., & McLanahan, S. (2001). Fragile Families: Sample and design. Children and Youth Services Review, 23, 303–326.CrossRef
Sinkewicz, M. (2006). The mental health of men: Profiles and life trajectories of urban American fathers. Doctoral Dissertation, School of Social Work, Columbia University.
Smock, P., Manning, W., & Gupta, S. (1999). The effect of marriage and divorce on women’s economic well-being. American Sociological Review, 64, 794–812.CrossRef
Thomas, A., & Sawhill, I. (2005). For love and money? The impact of family structure on family income. The Future of Children, 15, 52–74.CrossRef
Ventura, S., & Bachrach, C. (2000). Nonmarital childbearing in the United States, 1940–1999 (National Vital Statistics Reports Vol. 48, No. 16). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
Von Hippel, P. T. (2007). Regression with missing Ys: An improved strategy for analyzing multiply imputed data. Sociological Methodology, 37, 83–117.CrossRef
Waters, E., & Cummings, M. (2000). A secure base from which to explore close relationships. Child Development, 71, 164–172.CrossRef
Williams, K., & Umberson, D. (2004). Marital status, marital transitions, and health: A gendered life course perspective. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45, 81–98.CrossRef
Willitts, M., Benzeval, M., & Stansfeld, S. (2004). Partnership history and mental health over time. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 58, 53–58.CrossRef
Wu, L. (1996). Effects of family instability, income, and income instability on the risk of a premarital birth. American Sociological Review, 61, 386–406.CrossRef
Wu, Z., & Hart, R. (2002). The effects of marital and nonmarital union transition on health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 420–432.CrossRef
Wu, Z., Penning, M., Pollard, M., & Hart, R. (2003). In sickness and in health: Does cohabitation count? Journal of Family Issues, 24, 811–838.CrossRef
- Family Structure Transitions and Changes in Maternal Resources and Well-being
Volume 49, Issue 1 , pp 23-47
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- Family instability
- Maternal well-being
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, 2315 Red River Street, Box Y, Austin, TX, 78713, USA
- 2. School of Social Work and Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI, USA