Parents’ perceptions of their spouses’ parenting and infant temperament as predictors of coparenting quality

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2018-06-18

Authors

Gallegos, Martin Ignatius

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Abstract

The quality of the marital relationship across the transition to parenthood, in conjunction with the quality of infant temperament, have been found to predict coparenting quality, but little is known about how each parent’s perceptions of the other’s parenting qualities interact with their infant’s temperament during the first two years to predict parents’ later individual and dyadic coparenting behaviors. The present study explored this using data on family functioning and child outcomes from a longitudinal study collected on 125 families in central Texas over their first two years of parenthood. After each child’s birth, ratings of infants’ temperament were obtained from parents when infants were 6 weeks old. Each parents’ perceptions of their spouse’s parenting were coded from a videotaped couple interaction task obtained when infants were 8 months old, and parents’ individual and dyadic coparenting behaviors were coded from videotaped whole-family interactions obtained when infants were 24 months old. Mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of their spouse’s parenting at 8 months interacted with their infants’ temperament to predict their later warmth in coparenting, as well as their dyadic child-centered and cooperative coparenting. Specifically, higher maternal perceptions of fathers’ parenting predicted high levels of father warmth and higher levels of dyadic child-centered coparenting when infant temperamental reactivity was high. In contrast, higher paternal perceptions of mothers’ parenting predicted higher levels of mother warmth and higher dyadic child-centered and cooperative coparenting when infant temperamental reactivity was low. Parents’ individual warmth, involvement, and support were also associated with their dyadic coparenting behaviors. This study should help family systems researchers further understand how parents’ attitudes toward each other’s parenting interact with their infants’ temperament qualities across the transition to parenthood to influence their later functioning as coparents.

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