Parenting styles, family structure, and behavioral outcome for children in stepfather and non-divorced families



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Divorce and remarriage have become increasingly common in the United States and parenting is a frequent source of conflict in remarried families. A 2 (family type) X 2 (sex of child) multi-method, multi-measure design was used to compare non-clinical mothers, (step)fathers, and children (ages 6-9) from newly-formed (6 mos.) stepfather families and nondivorced families on measures of child behavior problems (CBCL), parenting styles, and parenting practices. Children in stepfamilies had higher CBCL externalized and total behavior problem scores by parents1 report than children from nondivorced families, but there were no significant differences in CBCL scores by teachers1 report. Remarried mothers were more authoritarian and less authoritative than mothers in nondivorced families. Fathers and stepfathers did not differ significantly in their parenting styles. Parents in stepfamilies differed more in their parenting styles than parents in nondivorced families. More authoritarian and more permissive parenting styles were associated with more behavior problems for children in stepfamilies as were interparental differences in parenting styles. There were significant differences in levels of warmth, control, and rapport by family type, sex of child, and gender of parent but no significant interactions among these variables.



Children of divorced parents, United States, Stepfamilies, Parenting