Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Sociology (Applied), PhD

Committee Chair

Högnäs, Robin

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Carini, Robert

Committee Member

Carini, Robert

Committee Member

Christopher, Karen

Committee Member

Heberle, Lauren

Committee Member

Perry, Armon

Author's Keywords

fragile families; extended kin; child wellbeing


This dissertation includes three quantitative papers using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Paper one, “For us or the children: Exploring the association between coparenting trajectories and parental commitment,” is situated in commitment theory and estimates latent growth curves. Findings suggest that unmarried parents’ coparental relationships are: 1) strong across the first five years of their children’s lives, and 2) influencing parental commitment at year 5. Paper two, “Maternal partnership transitions and coresidence with extended kin,” is situated in life course theory and estimates fixed and random effects models. Findings suggest that unmarried versus married mothers are more likely to coreside with extended kin, especially early in their children’s lives and following a partnership dissolution. By year 9, unmarried mothers are more likely to live “elsewhere” (e.g., temporary shelters). Reliance on extended kin weakens over time, which may be associated with resource depletion or mothers experiencing more stress when living with family. This study found that mothers turn to family members during transitional times. Paper three, “Nest effects: How children fare when changes occur within their mesosystems,” is situated in ecological theory and estimates multilevel models. Findings suggest that extended kin mediate the association between certain types of relationship transitions (e.g., when mothers consistently cohabit) and child wellbeing. Extended kin coresidence increases children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors; however, they also buffer children from instability caused by fathers’ incarceration or mothers’ multipartnered fertility. Kin may offer resources (e.g., attention) to children when their parents are distracted or absent.

Included in

Sociology Commons