Parental relationship stability and parent-adult child relationships in stepfamilies: A test of alternative models

Raymond E. Petren, David T. Lardier, Jacqueline Bible, Autumn Bermea, Brad van Eeden-Moorefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Stepfamily relationships remain important over the life course to both children and parents. Unfortunately, limitations in availability of longitudinal data that include useful measures of stepfamily relations remain, thereby scholars must rely mostly on cross-sectional examinations. As a way to more rigorously test some of the mixed cross-sectional findings related to the links among stepcouple stability and parent-adult child relationships (closeness, involvement) for three parent- child subsystems (mother- child, father- child, stepparent- child), we used an alternative modeling strategy to test three plausible models. Multiple group analyses also were used to compare associations for stepmother and stepfather families. Stepfamilies (N = 330) from the National Survey of Families and Households with data from both adult children and primary respondents (resident parent or stepparent) were included. All three models fit the data. The best-fitting model suggests the most probable order of association is that parental involvement is associated with parent- child closeness which, in turn, is associated with stepcouple stability. Results also suggest that multiple parent- child relationships and stepcouple relationship stability are generally positively linked for both stepmother and stepfather households, although some differences emerged. Taken together, findings underscore the influence of cross-household stepfamily relationships even when children are adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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