When Mothers and Fathers Disagree: Differences in Ratings of Child Well-being Among Parent Dyads

Catherine Boyd

Prior research documenting differences in child wellbeing across family forms relies heavily on the ratings of one parent – overwhelmingly the child’s mother. This over-reliance on a single-parent proxy ignores potentially important differences between fathers’ and mothers’ ratings of child outcomes. Using father-mother dyads from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study examines the factors that predict the difference in father and mother reports of poor child health, internalizing problem behavior, and externalizing problem behavior. This study finds that ratings of the same child’s health and problem behavior at age 5 differed between parents and that these discrepancies were better explained by the characteristics of the parents and their relationship with each other than those of the child. In general, as parents’ ratings of their relationship quality and coparenting diverge, the discrepancies in their reports of child wellbeing also grow wider.

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 Presented in Session 18. The Role of Father's on Child Well-being