Coparenting in Teen Mothers and Their Children's Fathers: Evidence From the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort

Published:October 04, 2012DOI:



      (1) To describe coparenting among adolescent mothers and the biological fathers of their children. (2) To examine the effects of coparenting on young children's social–emotional development and whether these effects vary by father's residence status, parental education, and child characteristics.


      Secondary analysis was conducted with the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, which is a nationally representative sample of U.S. children born in 2001. The subsample used in this study includes 400 children whose biological mothers, aged 15–19, participated when their children were 2 years and 4 years old and whose biological fathers (residential and nonresidential) participated at 4 years. Cooperative coparenting and coparenting conflict were measured at child age 2 years. Children's social skills and problem behavior were measured at child age 4 years.


      Mother- and father-reported coparenting conflict were associated with child behavior problems, more strongly among boys (b = 1.31, P < .01) than girls (b = −0.13, P > .05). Mother-reported coparenting conflict also predicted lower child social skills (b = −1.28, P < .05); the association of father-reported coparenting conflict with social skills was moderated by child race and father education.


      Coparenting conflict between adolescent parents influences child adjustment. Practitioners working with teen mothers should encourage father participation at medical visits and other clinical contacts and should address the relationship between the parents, whether or not they are living together, as part of routine care.


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