Another baby? Father involvement and childbearing in Fragile families

Letitia E. Kotila, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

An historic number of women in the United States have children outside of marriage, and with more than one father, yet little research has examined the association between family process and women's childbearing decisions. Using a subsample of unmarried women from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 2028), a study of primarily low-income unmarried parents, we conducted discrete-time survival analysis models to predict whether women had another child with the focal child's father (same-father birth) or with a new father (new-father birth). Father involvement was measured by engagement, indirect care, accessibility, and financial support. Overall, mothers who reported greater engagement and indirect care from the focal child's father were more likely to have a same-father birth even when he was not living in her home, and were also less likely to have a new-father birth. Further, mothers who reported greater accessibility and stable financial support from the focal child's nonresident father were also less likely to have a new-father birth. One pathway through which this may have occurred was that single mothers who perceived less indirect care and accessibility from the focal child's nonresident father were more likely to begin new romantic relationships. Indeed, whether or not the mother had a new romantic partner partially mediated the association between indirect care and a same-father birth and fully mediated the association between accessibility and a new-father birth, suggesting that one pathway linking father involvement to a new-father birth was through maternal repartnering. Clinical and policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)976-986
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Childbearing
  • Father involvement
  • Multipartner fertility
  • Nonmarital fertility
  • Repartnering

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