His, Hers, or Theirs? Coparenting After the Birth of a Second Child

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Abstract

This study examined changes in coparenting after the birth of a second child. Mothers and fathers from 241 2-parent families reported on their spouses’ coparenting cooperation and conflict with their firstborn children before (prenatal) and 4 months after the birth of a second child. Parents completed prenatal questionnaires on their gender-role attitudes, marital satisfaction, and firstborn children’s temperamental characteristics. Parents also reported on their second-born infants’ temperaments at 1 month of age. Coparenting conflict increased across the transition, and cooperation decreased. Couples in which fathers reported greater marital satisfaction were more cooperative 4 months after the second birth. Firstborns’ difficult temperaments contributed to less cooperative coparenting by both parents. When mothers had more traditional gender-role beliefs, fathers engaged in more conflictual coparenting behavior, and when fathers had more traditional gender-role beliefs, mothers engaged in more conflictual coparenting behavior. Mothers, but not fathers, engaged in more coparenting conflict regarding the firstborn when both the firstborn and infant sibling had difficult temperaments.

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