Father Involvement in Fragile Families: A Comparison of Married, Cohabiting, Visiting, and Nonromantic Family Structures

Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott, Arizona State University

Children benefit from their fathers’ involvement in their lives; however, the amount of father involvement is contingent on the father’s relationship with the child’s mother. Therefore, we may expect that father involvement will differ by relationship type. This research explores father involvement in cohabiting family types, comparing them with married, visiting, and nonromantic family structures, and comparing the mother’s responses with the father’s. Analysis of the father’s involvement during the pregnancy, hopes for father involvement after the child’s birth, and the importance of fathering actions reveals that cohabiting parents report more father involvement than other unmarried parents. Fathers tend to express a desire for more involvement than mothers wish for, an effect stronger for married and nonromantic couples than for cohabiting couples. The pattern of results suggests that family structure at the child’s birth plays a significant role in the father’s involvement with his child.

Presented in Session 104: Cohabitation