Coparenting as a family-level construct: Parent and child inputs across the first two years

Liu Bai, Ulziimaa Chimed-Ochir, Douglas M. Teti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the effects of infant negative affectivity (NA) and maternal and paternal depressive symptoms on fathers' and mothers' perceptions of coparenting across the first 2 years following an infant's birth. A total of 147 two-parent families (most couples were White, married, and living together) with healthy, full-term infants were recruited. At each time point, fathers and mothers separately reported their coparenting perceptions via the Coparenting Relationship Scale and their depressive symptoms using the depression subscale of Symptom Checklist-90-Revised. Mothers also reported their children's NA via the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised at 3 to 12 months and the Early Child Behavior Questionnaire at 18 and 24 months. Findings from growth curve models in an actor–partner interdependence model framework suggested that among parents with higher depression, there were steeper declines in coparenting quality reported by parents and their spouses across 3–24 months. In addition, three separate two-way interactions between variables including higher-than-usual parental and spousal depression, as well as higher-than-usual infant NA predicted poorer-than-usual coparenting experiences. Findings indicate that coparenting is a dynamically unfolding construct that is impacted by ongoing changes in the parents' social-ecological niche and suggest the need to consider both parent and child characteristics, and to include spousal influences, to get a comprehensive, whole-family understanding of levels and changes in coparenting relationships. The findings also confirm that coparenting dynamics may benefit from interventions engaging both couples and addressing multiple risk factors from both parents (e.g., depression) and children (e.g., NA).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFamily Process
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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