Finding what works: managing resources to facilitate coparenting in unmarried families
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] As the non-marital birth rate continues to rise, scholars have begun to explore the characteristics of unmarried families, particularly those with limited resources. The original purpose of this study was to explore how cohabitation status (i.e., fulltime cohabitation, stayover relationships, or living apart) affected coparenting in unmarried families. In-depth interviews with 22 paired mothers and fathers revealed that couples could not easily be categorized by cohabitation status, nor was coresidence the most important influence on coparenting. Instead, the ways in which couples managed their resources affected their abilities to reduce or eliminate stressors in their lives. Couples who were able to effectively manage their resources experienced less stress and were able to coparent based on a set of shared beliefs and values (proactive coparenting), whereas couples with more stress struggled to enact their beliefs and values as they coparented (reactive coparenting). Implications for family programming and future research will be discussed.
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