Behavioral and emotional problems are common in early childhood and put children at risk for developing more serious problems. This study tested the mediating mechanisms through which a universal coparenting intervention implemented during the transition to parenthood led to reduced child adjustment problems at age 3 and explored child gender as a potential moderator. One hundred sixty-nine heterosexual couples expecting their first child were randomly assigned to a control condition or Family Foundations, a series of eight classes that targeted the coparenting relationship. Data were collected through videotaped triadic mother-father-child interaction tasks when the child was 1 and 3 years of age. Separate longitudinal path analyses for mothers and fathers tested coparenting competition and positivity as mediators of program effects on child adjustment problems. Significant mediated effects for coparenting competition were found for fathers with both sons and daughters and for mothers with sons but not for mothers with daughters. These effects accounted for between 39 and 55 % of the intervention's impact on child adjustment problems. Coparenting positivity did not mediate program effects. These results support the use of a prevention approach to reduce coparenting competition and enhance child adjustment and provide information that can be used to refine theory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health