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J Adolesc Health. 2014 Feb;54(2):197-203. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.08.012. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

Family and relationship influences on parenting behaviors of young parents.

Author information

  • 1Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut; Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, New Haven, Connecticut. Electronic address:
  • 2Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut; Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • 3Department of Public Health, City University of New York, New York, New York.
  • 4Department of Neonatal and Fetal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • 5Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, The Consultation Center, New Haven, Connecticut.



Assess the influence of relationship and family factors during pregnancy on parenting behavior 6 months postpartum among low-income young parents.


Some 434 young expectant couples were recruited from obstetrics clinics during pregnancy and followed 6 months postpartum. Using a series of general estimating equations to control for the correlated nature of the data, we assessed the influence of relationship factors (e.g., relationship satisfaction, attachment) and family factors (e.g., family functioning, family history) during pregnancy on parenting (e.g., parenting involvement, time spent caregiving, parenting experiences, and parenting sense of competence) 6 months postpartum controlling for covariates.


Relationship functioning related to parenting involvement, caregiving, parenting experiences, and parenting sense of competence. In addition, several family factors related to parenting. Mother involvement during childhood was related to more parenting involvement, parenting positive experiences, and parenting sense of competence. History of being spanked as a child related to less time spent caregiving and less positive life change from being a parent. Further, gender significantly moderated the associations between relationship and family factors and parenting behavior. Male parenting behavior was more influenced by relationship and family factors than female parenting.


This study suggests the importance of relationship and family contexts for parenting behaviors of young mothers and fathers, highlighting the potential utility of involving both young mothers and fathers in parenting programs, and developing interventions that focus on strengthening young parents' romantic relationships and that address negative parenting experienced during childhood.

Copyright © 2014 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Family context; Interpersonal relationships; Parenting

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