Black Intimacies Matter: the Role of Family Status, Gender, and Cumulative Risk on Relationship Quality Among Black Parents


Studies show that married families report higher levels of relationship quality relative to unmarried families; yet, limited attention has been given to differences in relationship quality between married and unmarried Black families. The authors examined the interplay between family status, gender, and cumulative risk exposure on relationship quality among Black parents. The results suggest that (a) differences between married and unmarried parents only emerged on two measures of relationship quality, (b) married mothers report higher levels of cohesiveness and lower levels of distress compared to married fathers and unmarried parents; (c) cumulative risk exposure was associated with each relationship quality measure; (d) cumulative risk mediated differences in relationship quality between married and unmarried mothers but not for married and unmarried fathers; and (e) cumulative risk exposure moderated the association between family status and gender whereby the effect of cumulative risk on relationship quality was more detrimental for married mothers.

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The authors would like to thank a consortium of private foundations for their support of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01HD36916, R01HD39135, and R01HD40421, as well as a consortium of private foundations. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Deadric T. Williams.

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Williams, D.T., Simon, L. & Cardwell, M. Black Intimacies Matter: the Role of Family Status, Gender, and Cumulative Risk on Relationship Quality Among Black Parents. J Afr Am St 23, 1–17 (2019).

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  • Black parents
  • Cumulative risk
  • Family status
  • Gender
  • Intersectionality