Former Spouses and Generational Relationships

Annotated Bibliography

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Amato, P. R., Meyers, C. E., & Emery, R. E. (2009). Changes in nonresident father-child contact from 1976 to 2002. Family Relations, 58, 41-53.

Data from the 1976 wave of the National Survey of Children (NSC), 1987-1988 wave of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), the 1996 wave of the Children of the National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY), and the 2002 wave of the National Survey of America's Families (NSAF) were used to assess changes in nonresidentl father-child contact for over time. Fathers showing at least weekly contact increased from 18% to 31% across surveys. Mothers' reports of father contact also increased between the 1970s and 1990s, but it leveled off in the 2000s. Both increases in child age and maternal repartnering were linked with less contact, whereas mother's increasing age was linked with more contact. Mother's race and education were not associated with contact, except that Hispanic mothers reported less contact than Whites. Increased father contact was 415% and 99% greater, if he paid child support and the child was born within a marriage, respectively.

Aquilino, W. S. (2005). Impact of family structure on parental attitudes toward the economic support of adult children over the transition to adulthood. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 143-167.

Data were from the first (1987-1988) and second (1992-1994) waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) from 238 stepfamilies (121 stepfamilies with children from previous relationships and a child from the current marriage, and 117 stepfamilies in which the remarried parents did not have a child together) and examined the influence of family structure on economic support for adult transitioning children. Controlling for parent-child relationship quality, perceived financial obligation increased over time from parents, but decreased from stepparents. This effect (decreased perceived financial obligations) became more pronounced when stepparents did not have a child together. Emerging adult children from intact families were more likely to actually receive financial assistance than their counterparts from stepfamilies.

Bridges, L. J., Roe, A. E. C., Dunn, J., & O';Connor, T. G. (2007). Children's perspectives on their relationships with grandparents following parental separation: A longitudinal study. Social Development, 16, 439-454.

Using data from the Avon Brothers and Sisters Study (England) from 385 children (reduced to 140 over 5 years) were used to examine the closeness to grandparents and child adjustment by family structure (single mother = 39, M-SF = 42, F-SM = 13, and bio-parents = 46). Drop in average contact occurred over time, but not in closeness. Regarding M-SF family, variances in externalizing accounted for by M-C negativity when maternal grandmother was focus; when maternal grandfather was focus, negativity and closeness to grandfather important in expected directions. Family structure did not affect closeness over time.

Carlson, D. L., & Knoester, C. (2011). Family structure and the intergenerational transmission of gender ideology. Journal of Family Issues, 32, 709-734.

Using data from two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households, examined the effects of family structure (single-parent, n = 269; stepfamily, n =167; two-parent bio-family, n = 401) on the transfer of gender ideology from parent/stepparent to child where higher scores reflect more egalitarian beliefs. Bio-parents beliefs are highly correlated with their children's beliefs; stepparents' are correlated with stepchildren's only when their relationship is good; convergence between mothers and sons and divergence between fathers and daughters especially in stepfamilies; and high-quality relations in stepparents enhanced transmission between same-sex bio-P-child, but high-quality relations with spouses in intact families shows competing role model dynamic.

Coleman, M., Ganong, L. H., Hans, J., Sharp, E. A., & Rothrauff, T. C. (2005). Filial obligations in post-divorce stepfamilies. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 43(3/4), 1-27.

Data from 1,009 (523 men, 486 women; 87% White, 9% African American, 2% Latinos, and 25 other; 51% married, 6% remarried, 16% divorced or separated, 10% widowed, 16% single, and 1% cohabited; average age = 43.9) randomly selected in a Midwestern state were used to examine filial obligations in post-divorce stepfamilies. Responses to vignettes suggested that for fictitious parents, obligations were strongest toward divorced mothers than father, parents with more frequent contact with children, and from respondents who were younger, resided in urban locations, and regularly attended religious services. Regarding fictitious stepparents, obligations were stronger toward stepparents with more frequent contact with stepchildren and from respondents who were younger, White, and had higher levels of education.

Coleman, C., Ganong, L. H., & Rothrauff, T. C. (2006). Racial and ethnic similarities and differences in beliefs about intergenerational assistance to older adults after divorce and remarriage. Family Relations, 55, 576-587.

Qualitative data from 3,316 ethnically diverse (Caucasians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans) respondents obtained through national multistage random digit dialing were used to examine the rationale young adults apply in a hypothetical dilemma of to whom they should provide support (e.g., parents, stepparents). Less than 15% cited family obligation norms as the reason for helping a stepparent, whereas most cited these norms as a main reason for assisting bio-parents. Respondents from all racial groups (except African Americans) mentioned repayment of debts more for parents than stepparents, although stepparents would be considered if they maintained contact over the years. Relationship quality was a more important reason for helping in stepparent-stepchild relationships than for biological ones.

Fischer, T. F. C., de Graaf, P. M., & Kalmijn, M. (2005). Friendly and antagonistic contact between former spouses after divorce. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 1131-1163.

Data from "Divorce in the Netherlands" (1999) of 1,791 ever-divorced individuals were used to examine contact with former spouses. Of the sample, 54% reported contact with former spouses (46% no contact; 37% friendly; 17% antagonistic) in the past year. The passage of time steadily decreased contact in couples without joint children (30% reported no contact within the first year, 50% after 5 years, and 60% after 10 years). For those with joint children, 10% had no contact after the first year, 70% had antagonistic contact, and 20% had friendly contact. After 10 years, 70% maintain contact, and after 20 years, 50%. Owning a house increased (friendly) contact, relational conflicts during marriage and the presence of neurotic personalities increased (antagonistic) contact, and having liberal values increased both antagonistic and friendly contact. Practical conflicts during marriage and living with a new partner decreased both forms of contact.

Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2006). Obligations to stepparents acquired in later life: Relationship quality and acuity of needs. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 61B, S80-S88.

Data from a multistage probability sample of 487 men and 571 women (165 stepparents; 63% White, 16% African American, 10% Latino or Hispanic, and 4% Asian American) across the US were use to examine the perceived obligations to older parents and stepparents using a fictitious scenario. Individuals believed that biological adult children should assist their mothers and fathers more than their stepparents, with divorced, married and single respondents perceiving more of an obligation than remarried respondents. The perceived obligation toward stepparents was greater for those reporting high incomes. Preference was given to biological parents over stepparents and greater relationship quality and lower acuity of need warranting greater perceived obligation to help parents.

Goldscheider, F., Hofferth, S., Spearin, C., & Curtin, S. (2009). Fatherhood across two generations: Factors affecting early family roles. Journal of Family Issues, 30, 586-604.

Using a sample of men and women 14- 21 in 1979 ("youths") and their children in their 20s in 2004 ("young adults") from the NLSY79 assessed the specific factors affecting their family. Youths from the early cohort who had a stepfather were more likely (1.8 times) to become nonresidential fathers than those without stepfathers, and this negatively affected the later cohort. Young adults who had stepfathers in the earlier cohort were less likely to be resident single fathers than those with two bio-parents, but this was not true for the later cohort.

Guzzo, K. B. (2009). Maternal relationships and nonresidential father visitation of children born outside of marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 71, 632-649.

Examined the relationship between maternal relationship status and visitation of nonresident fathers in 781 children from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Using the 12-month and 36-month follow-ups, 44% of fathers saw their children in the prior month at both times, and 28% had not at either time. Likelihood of visitation was greater when the mother was stably unpartnered than stably partnered. Mother's entrance into a new coresident relationship (forming stepfamilies) was linked to the discontinuance father visitation. Partnered mothers who had stable coresident partners actively engaged with the child and were associated with less nonresident father visitation. Visitation increased between waves for mothers who ended coresident relationships in the same period.

Hakvoort, E. M., Bos, H. M. W., Van Balen, F., & Hermanns, J. M. A. (2011). Postdivorce relationships in families and children's psychosocial adjustment. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 52, 125-146.

Data were from a larger study in the Netherlands, and included mothers and children (8-12 years) from 50 from single-mother and 37 from stepfather families, reporting on quality of mothers' relationship with ex-partner and child reporting on relationship with mother and father and their well-being. Mothers of sons reported more satisfaction with their relationship with ex-partner, and boys in single-mother reported more acceptance and fewer conflicts than boys in stepfather families. Family structure did not affect child well-being, but quality of relationships did.

Juby, H., Billette, J., Laplante, B., & Le Bourdais, C. (2007). Nonresident fathers and children: Parents' new unions and frequency of contact. Journal of Family Issues, 28, 1220-1245.

Using responses form 1,231 separated parents from 3 waves of data from Canada's National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, the effects of family variables and transitions (children born within new union, sex and age of child, child support, change in child support, tension over visiting, duration since separation, and mother's employment, income, and education) on father-child frequency of contact were examined. A reduction in contact and an increase in percent repartnering over 2.5 years occurred. Additional bio-children, more time since separation, high tension over visits for mother, and mother's repartnering (father's repartnering did not affect) were associated with less contact with fathers. Only fathers' payment of child support and full-time employment of the mother were associated with more contact. All other variables, like age and sex of child, failed to affect contact.

Kalmijn, M. (2007). Gender differences in the effects of divorce, widowhood and remarriage on intergenerational support: Does marriage protect fathers? Social Forces, 85, 1079-1104.

Data from 8, 040 Danish parent-child dyads were used to examine the effects of divorce, widowhood, or remarriage on contact and support given to parents. Divorced parents had less contact and receive less support from children than married parents. Parents who live with a new spouse receive less support from children than those who live alone. Remarriage affects fathers' contact with children more negatively than mothers' contact, causing more separation. New children increased the support received from older children for mothers, but not for fathers, who experience the opposite effect. The weakening of the relationship with children when a parent enters a new relationship is not reversed when the parent ends that relationship.

Kelly, K. P., & Ganong, L. (2011). Moving to place: Childhood cancer treatment decision making in single-parent and repartnered family structures. Qualitative Health Research, 21,349-364.

Using grounded theory, interviewed 15 parents, stepparents, and nonresident parents to determine their decision making in dealing with children's cancer treatment. "Moving to place" was key theme in how they negotiated involvement in the process. Being involved or not was a function of parent position, re-diagnosis dynamics, and time since diagnosis. Non-resident and stepparents either stepped up, back, away, or were pushed away in treatment decision. For stepparents, they typically backed away, were pushed away, or stepped up "gingerly" in the process, often experiencing ambiguity.

Lin, I. (2008). Consequences of parental divorce for adult children's support of their frail parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 113-128.

The trajectories of adult children's helping behavior (care or money transfers to help with ADL/IADL) across the 1998, 2000, and 2002 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (n = 1,443 mothers with 5,099 children and 1,132 fathers with 4,029 children) were used. The number of children giving care (more often than money) increased by 50% between 1998 and 2002. For the adult children whose mothers divorced, became widowed, or remarried, the time between the marital event and 1998 was 25 years, 18 years, and 11 years, respectively. Adult children in the father sample had a shorter period of parental divorce, but a longer period of parental remarriage. These times were unrelated to provision of care or monetary support after controlling for mother/fathers and children characteristics. Children were more likely to provide care or financial aid if their mothers were currently widowed or divorced as opposed to married, but financial assistance was not associated with fathers' current marital status.

Ruiz, S. A., & Silverstein, M. (2007). Relationship with grandparents and the emotional well-being of late adolescent and young adult grandchildren. Journal of Social Issues, 63, 793-808.

Using National Survey of Families and Households data (Wave 2), 925 adult children from single-parent (94), stepfamilies (258), and intact families (573) were examined to determine whether and under what conditions young adult grandchildren (i.e., depressive symptoms and self-esteem) benefit from having close and supportive relationship. Those in SF, females, younger, and poor quality relationship with parents had more depression, but grandparent cohesion did not affect depression for those in SF (only single-parent). Family structure did not affect self-esteem, but those with higher quality relationships with parents, reported higher esteem. Cohesion with grandparents reduced depressive symptoms for grandchildren who were on better terms with their parents in all family types. Grandparents whose child was the noncustodial parent may be blocked from visiting and bonding with their grandchildren by the custodial parent. Remarriage appears to negatively affect both the accessibility and quality of grandparent ties and be linked with emotional difficulties for children.

Sbarra, D. A., & Emery, R. E. (2005). Coparenting conflict, nonacceptance, and depression among divorced adults: Results from a 12-year follow-up study of child custody mediation using multiple imputation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75, 63-75.

Data from 61 mothers and 57 fathers (1/2 either remarried or cohabiting) were compared to identify the long-term (12 years) effects of divorce mediation. At follow-up, results indicated that parents who mediated also experienced less coparenting conflict and greater nonacceptance of divorce than litigants. Mothers reported greater depressive symptoms than fathers. Fathers reported greater nonacceptance immediately after initial custody resolution and continued greater nonacceptance at 12-year follow-up.

Schrodt, P. (2010). Coparental communication with nonresidential parents as a predictor of couples' relational satisfaction and mental health in stepfamilies. Western Journal of Communication, 74, 484-503.

Using data from a convenience sample of 127 stepfamily dyads, findings were that stepparents' coparental communication (supportive and nonantagonistic) with nonresident parents was linked with more relationship satisfaction with partner and own mental health, and that this cooperative coparenting was also linked with partner's reduced relationship satisfaction and mental health.

Schrodt, P. (2011). Stepparents' and nonresidential parents' relational satisfaction as a function of coparental communication in stepfamilies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 983-1004.

Using data from 40 resident stepparents (25 stepfathers, 15 stepmothers) and non-resident parent (25 fathers, 15 mothers) dyads, stepparent and nonresident parent reports of antagonistic and supportive communication influenced their relational satisfaction with the other. Nonresident antagonistic and supportive communication with resident parent affected their satisfaction with stepparent and stepparent satisfaction with them.

Schwarz, B. (2006). Adult daughters' family structure and the association between reciprocity and relationship quality. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 208-228.

Data from 183 Swiss women (61 in first marriages, 58 divorced and with a new partner, and 64 singles) and their mothers were used to explore their relationships. Daughters with a new partner (non-legal remarriages) were younger (as were their mothers) than those either in first marriages or single. Of daughters with new partners, 26% reported that their mothers gave more to them than vice versa compare to those in first marriages or single. Of re-partnered daughters, 4% reported giving more to their mothers compare with 12% of first-married and 13% of single daughters. Also, daughters living closer and reporting more intimacy with their mothers also report giving more help and receiving more help. Higher intimacy in women in first marriages and not in new relationships was associated with more help from mothers. For single women, but not partnered women, the perception of giving more help than receiving was associated with higher conflict with mothers.

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