Behavioral outcomes in children of adolescent and adult mothers: Linkages with coparenting and learning activities

Caroline F.D. Black, Melissa Barnett, Priscilla L. Zambrano, Laura K. Noll, Tianna Kortman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study explored associations among supportive coparenting, maternal–child learning activities, and child behavioral outcomes in adult and adolescent mothers experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage. Background: Supportive coparenting relationships are associated with positive parenting and child outcomes, yet research is limited for families experiencing socioeconomic adversities, particularly adolescent mothers, leading to an overemphasis of family risk and child negative outcomes. Methods: Data were derived from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study for a sample of 3-year-old children whose parents maintained functional relationships (N = 3, 421). Structural equation models tested whether supportive coparenting directly associated with child prosocial, externalizing, and internalizing behaviors and if indirect effects were transferred through maternal–child learning activities. Moderation analyses tested whether direct and indirect effects were conditional based on maternal age at childbirth (adolescent vs. adult). Results: Maternal–child learning explained associations between supportive coparenting and child social outcomes. Higher levels of supportive coparenting directly associated with lower levels of child problem behaviors. Although findings varied between adult and adolescent mothers, no moderation effects were detected. Conclusion: Supportive coparenting relationships are equally beneficial to children of adult and young mothers experiencing socioeconomic adversities, although pathways of influence differ. Implications: Programs serving historically marginalized families, particularly adolescent mothers, may benefit by targeting coparenting and maternal–child learning activities as modifiable factors that promote positive child outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1045
Number of pages19
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • adolescent parenthood
  • child development
  • coparenting
  • family strengths
  • parent–child relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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