A prospective study of the effects of marital status and family relations on young children's adjustment among African American and European American families

Child Dev. May-Jun 1999;70(3):742-55. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00053.


The present study investigated the effects of divorce and family relations on young children's development prospectively, using an ethnically diverse sample of approximately 300 low-income families. We also were able to examine the moderating effects of ethnicity on child adjustment in always two-parent, to-be-divorced, already-divorced, and always single-parent families. Results indicated that to-be-divorced European American and African American families demonstrated higher rates of preschool-age behavior problems, and already-divorced families showed similar trends. Parental conflict and behavior problems accounted for predivorce differences in child behavior problems, whereas rejecting parenting accounted for differences in problem behavior between always single-parent and always two-parent families. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of ethnicity in influencing young, low-income children's adjustment to different family structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / ethnology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Divorce / ethnology*
  • Divorce / psychology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Family Health / ethnology
  • Family Relations / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neurotic Disorders / etiology
  • Pennsylvania
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Urban Health