This proposal is intended to provide additional training in child development, demography, and advanced statistical methods and to support research examining relationships between family structure transitions, parenting behaviors, and children's cognitive and behavioral development. A considerable body of research has been devoted to marital dissolution and associations between single-parent family structure and child wellbeing. In contrast, the effects of maternal re-partnering on children have received less attention, despite estimates that nearly a third of children will spend some time in stepfamilies. This research will focus on the effects of maternal re-partnering on parenting behaviors and child development, paying specific attention to whether there are differences in these effects when such """"""""re-partnerings"""""""" constitute cohabitations, as opposed to marriages. It has 4 specific aims: (1) To estimate the effects of changes in family structure, with an emphasis on maternal re-partnering, on changes in children's cognitive and behavioral development;(2) To explore the effects of maternal re-partnering on changes in maternal parenting behaviors;(3) To compare the types of parenting behaviors and discipline strategies utilized by biological fathers to those utilized by """"""""social""""""""fathers (i.e., men who are married to, or cohabiting with, women and their biological children, but who are not those children's biological fathers);and (4) To examine whether and how changes in parenting behaviors may explain (i.e., mediate) associations between changes in family structure and changes in children's achievement and behavior.
These aims will be addressed using data from 3 population based longitudinal studies: the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. All analyses will specificallytest whether there are differences in associations between maternal re-partnering and parenting behaviors and child outcomes by marital status. They will also consider whether the impact of maternal re-partnering varies by child age and gender, as well as family socioeconomic status. Finally, they will assesswhether effects of maternal re-partnering on parenting and child wellbeing are transitory or persist over time. As a sizeable proportion of children will experience maternal re-partnershipsduring the course of their childhoods, it is crucial to understand the changes in parenting behaviors, family dynamics, and child development that may accompany these transitions. This research has implications for public policies intended to encourage marriage and family formation, as well as for designing programs and policies to promote child wellbeing for children in complex family structures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
King, Rosalind B
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University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Font, Sarah A; Berger, Lawrence M (2015) Child maltreatment and children's developmental trajectories in early to middle childhood. Child Dev 86:536-56
Berger, Lawrence M; McLanahan, Sara S (2015) Income, Relationship Quality, and Parenting: Associations with Child Development in Two-Parent Families. J Marriage Fam 77:996-1015
Lee, Shawna J; Grogan-Kaylor, Andrew; Berger, Lawrence M (2014) Parental spanking of 1-year-old children and subsequent child protective services involvement. Child Abuse Negl 38:875-83
Berger, Lawrence M; Bzostek, Sharon H (2014) Young Adults' Roles as Partners and Parents in a Context of Family Complexity. Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci 654:87-109
Carlson, Marcia J; Berger, Lawrence M (2013) What Kids Get from Parents: Packages of Parental Involvement across Complex Family Forms. Soc Serv Rev 87:213-249
Osborne, Cynthia; Berger, Lawrence M; Magnuson, Katherine (2012) Family structure transitions and changes in maternal resources and well-being. Demography 49:23-47
Berger, Lawrence M; Cancian, Maria; Meyer, Daniel R (2012) Maternal Re-Partnering and New-Partner Fertility: Associations with Nonresident Father Investments in Children. Child Youth Serv Rev 34:426-436
Nepomnyaschy, Lenna; Magnuson, Katherine; Berger, Lawrence M (2012) Child Support and Young Children's Development. Soc Serv Rev 86:3-35
Maguire-Jack, Kathryn; Gromoske, Andrea N; Berger, Lawrence M (2012) Spanking and child development during the first 5 years of life. Child Dev 83:1960-77
Langton, Callie E; Berger, Lawrence M (2011) Family Structure and Adolescent Physical Health, Behavior, and Emotional Well-Being. Soc Serv Rev 85:323-357

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