Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education and Care

First Advisor

Anne Douglass

Second Advisor

Songtian Zeng

Third Advisor

Kyungmin Kim


The marital relationship plays a central role in parenting and child development. This dissertation investigated the roles of the mother-father relationship in parenting processes and children’s social-emotional adjustment. Using 1,423 mother-father dyadic data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), Study 1 examined how positive and negative mother-father relationships were associated with maternal and paternal parenting and the moderating role of parents’ participation in early childhood education (ECE) programs (e.g., workshops). Results showed the joint contributions of mothers and fathers to parenting processes by influencing their own and partners’ parenting. Parents’ ECE participation was beneficial equally for both mothers’ and fathers’ parenting behaviors, although no moderating effects were found in Study 1.

Study 2 extended the investigation by testing whether the effects of the mother-father relationship on parenting served as a mediating mechanism through which the mother-father relationship comes to influence children’s later social-emotional outcomes. I conducted a longitudinal mediation analysis using three waves of data collected from 1,438 mother-father dyads and their common children in the FFCWS. The pattern of results showed that both positive and negative dimensions of the mother-father relationship influenced children’s social-emotional development, and some of the influences were carried by affecting paternal and maternal coparenting and maternal parenting stress.

Using three waves of data from the Panel Study of Korean Children, Study 3 investigated how marital relationships were linked to changes in children’s social-emotional skills from 4 to 7 years of age through maternal and parental parenting among Korean families (family N = 1,970). Results showed that maternal and paternal parenting were predicted by their own and partner’s perceptions of marital satisfaction and conflict. Also, maternal warmth, paternal warmth, and paternal coparenting mediated the links between marital relationships and changes in children’s social-emotional skills. Further, the mediational processes were moderated by social support from extended family, friends, and neighbors.


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