Working With African American Individuals, Couples and Families: Expert Panel A Free Live Webcast

The National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families is excited to invite you to participate in a free live Expert Panel webcast on Working with African American Individuals, Couples and Families. This moderated discussion will bring together nationally recognized experts and practitioners to address cultural competencies, discuss strategies to improve services, and highlight free resources to support you and your agency in your efforts to strengthen families.

Working With African American Individuals, Couples and Families: Expert Panel
Thursday, February 20, 2014
1:00pm – 2:30pm EST

To register for this free webcast, click here:
This webcast will:

  • Educate safety-net service providers and other stakeholders on ways to improve service delivery to African American clients and families;
  • Create a foundation for understanding perspectives, improving communication, and strengthening relationships with those in the African American community;
  • Discuss strategies for stakeholders working with African American couples and families to integrate healthy relationship education into existing services; and
  • Highlight and promote free resources and products that are available to stakeholders through the Resource Center.

Hosted by Robyn Cenizal, Director, National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families, the event will feature:

  • Charisse Johnson, Administration for Children & Families, Office of Family Assistance
  • Rozario Slack, The Legacy Campaign
  • Tera Jordan, Iowa State University
  • Kenneth Braswell, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
  • Nisa Muhammad, Wedded Bliss

Following the facilitated dialogue, participants will have an opportunity to ask questions.

To register for this free webcast, click here:

The National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families hosts regular free webinar opportunities for interested Federal, State, Tribal and local agency administrators and social service providers. Visit us at to learn more about the Resource Center, view past webinars, and find out about upcoming events.

NCFR Sessions on Coparenting & Divorce

Coparenting:  November 6, 2013 Time:   8:00 pm – 8:45 pm  Ballroom Corridor

Couples That Parent Together, Stay Together

Presented by: Kristy Soloski, Jared Durtschi

Using longitudinal dyadic data (N = 1,291 couples) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we tested if trajectories of coparenting and parental stress differed by those that did and did not dissolve their romantic relationships across the first five years of parenthood. Mothers and fathers that remained intact through the first five years of parenthood indicated higher initial levels of coparenting and greater increases in coparenting overtime. There were no significant differences when comparing the trajectories of parental stress between intact and dissolved relationships in the initial level or rate of change.

Fathers’ Boundary Negotiations in Post-divorce Coparenting Relationships

Presented by: Tyler Jamison, Ashton Chaman, Rachael Doubledee, Richard Feistman, Marilyn Coleman, Lawrence Ganong

Following divorce, parents must renegotiate co-parenting and establish new boundaries that delineate parental responsibilities. This grounded theory study explored 20 fathers’ boundary negotiations in post-divorce co-parenting relationships. Fathers solicited participation and cooperation from their ex-wives to maintain co-parenting relationships and to maximize contact with their children. Fathers were open to their ex-wives’ input about childrearing, and it changed their parenting behaviors. According to these fathers, mothers were not as open to their input and often engaged in restrictive gatekeeping (i.e., limiting access to children). Fathers’ attempts to push back against these closed boundaries yielded mixed results.

Changes in Coparenting Associated With Changes in Relationship Quality

Presented by: Jared Durtschi, Kristy Soloski

The transition to parenthood has been shown to be difficult for some couples. We used longitudinal dyadic data (N = 768 couples) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to test if coparenting and parental stress covaried across time with the trajectories of expected relationship quality for mothers and fathers. Results from a dyadic growth curve model with time-varying covariates suggested that significant shifts in the expected trajectory of relationship quality from when the first child was one year to five years old were associated with reports of change in parents’ coparenting and parental stress scores across time.

Communication Among Parents Who Share Physical Custody After Divorce or Separation

Presented by: Melinda Stafford Markham, Yolanda Mitchell, Jaimee Hartenstein, Ghadir Aljayyousi-Khalil, Denise Thompson

This study produces a grounded theory of how 30 divorced or separated parents experienced communicating with their former partners while sharing physical custody of their children. It was determined that communication, custody arrangement, and relationship with the former partner all influence each other. Five other factors (child, new partner, family background, time, and breakup) influenced the custody arrangement, communication, and relationship. The findings of this study suggest that communication in shared physical custody relationships is dynamic, can vary greatly, and is related to a number of different factors.

Family System’s View of School Readiness: Effects of Parenting, Coparenting, and Intimacy

Presented by: Adam M. Galovan, Erin Kramer Holmes, Jean M. Ispa

Using family systems theory and dyadic multilevel structural equation modeling, we explore the ways in which partner and coparental relationships influence kindergarten school readiness beyond parental provision of felt security. We consider how parenting similarity and couple intimacy may moderate the effect of parenting on school readiness. Moderation analyses suggest that greater coparental similarity in sensitivity allowed for a stronger influence of emotional intimacy on children’s school readiness. Thus, when the relationships most proximal to the child (parent-child relationships) are consistent, the couple relationship seems to have a stronger influence on children’s development of social skills and academic competence.

A Measure of Maternal Gatekeeping

Presented by: Daniel Puhlman, Kay Pasley

Maternal gatekeeping is an important concept that describes how mothers influence the involvement of fathers on children.  A measure accurately depicting a three dimensional conceptualization of this construct has not been tested.  This study tests this three dimensional construct introduced by Puhlman and Pasley (in press) and establishes a valid and reliable measure for mothers and fathers.  The development of this measure allows scholars to further understand the role of maternal gatekeeping as a coparenting construct and its influence on father involvement.

Maternal Gatekeeping and Coparenting: Similar or Distinct?

Presented by: Lauren E. Altenburger, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, Claire M. Kamp Dush

The family system is an interdependent network of individuals and subsystems.  The coparenting subsystem emerges across the transition to parenthood and has been defined as the extent to which parents collaborate in childrearing.  Maternal gatekeeping, or mothers’ beliefs and behaviors that may thwart parents’ efforts to share childrearing more equally, also develops during this period.  Both constructs have been linked to father involvement and child development, though they have largely been studied independently.  The current study uses an expanded conceptualization of maternal gatekeeping to examine their relationship, and thus, provide information that can be used to refine measurement.

Should I Try and Work on My Marriage or Just Get Divorced?

This is a tough question that faces many couples during their marriage.  There are many issues to consider and it is not always easy to find helpful advice.  Alan Hawkins and his colleagues from Brigham Young University have written a very thoughtful guide to help couples think through this process.

They include helpful activities that either (or both) partners can do to get a realistic assessment of where they are.  Hawkins and colleagues also provide information about the effects of divorce on children and adults.

This is a valuable resource for couples.

Which ethnic group has the highest probability of getting divorce?

There are substantial differences in the likelihood of staying married depending on ethnic group membership.  In the chart below, there are estimates of the probability of women staying married by ethnic group.  Black women are the least likely to stay married for 20 years.  Only 37% Black are still in first marriages by 20 years.  About half of White and Hispanic women are still married at 20 years.  Asian women have the highest chance of staying married for 20 years.  (79%).

For men, Hispanic men are the most likely to stay married for 20 years (62%) and about half of Black (53%) and White (54%) men staying in intact first marriages for 20 years.

Probability that Marriage will remain intact for 20 years by ethnic group

The complete report on first marriages was produced by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Diverging Pathways of Marriage by Women’s Education

Cohabitation by Amount of Education  1995-2010


The most striking recent findings in regards to patterns of marriage is the variations in cohabitation by the educational level of women.  This chart comparing women with less than a high school degree with those women who earn a Bachelor degree is telling.  In 1995 46% of women with less than a high school degree started a first union as cohabitation.  In 2010 that percentage is now 70%.  For women with a Bachelor’s degree, cohabitation is more common, but only 47% of these women are starting their first union as cohabitation.  The more education that women have, the less likely they are to begin their first union as cohabitation.  The complete report on cohabitation trends is available from the National Center for Health Statistics.   

What is happening to marriage in the US?

An easy way to get some insight into the state of marriage is to look at the trend in the time of first union (no union, cohabitation, or marriage) among women in the past 15 years.  The most telling part of this graph is the dramatic increase in the percentage of women beginning unions as cohabitation (34% in 1995 and up to 48% in 2010) and the decline in first unions that are marriages (39% in 1995 and only 23% in 2010).  The complete report on cohabitation was prepared by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Type of first union US women 1995-2010

Child Trends Data Related to Marriage and Parenting

Child Trends collects and organizes lots of data about children and families.  Below are some the indicators that apply to marriage and parenting.