Bernier, A., Cyr, C., Matte-Gagné, C., & Tarabulsy, G.M. (2023). Parent–child interactions as predictors of coparenting: A longitudinal study of family subsystems. Journal of Family Studies, 29, 239-254.


Family systems theory suggests that the family is an organized system in which different subsystems influence each other within and across levels, such as across dyadic and higher-order family-level systems. It is therefore expected that dyadic mother – child and father – child relationships contribute to shape relational processes that take place at the triadic mother – father – child level. Consequently, this study examined whether the quality of mother – child and father – child interactions in toddlerhood was associated with subsequent quality of the coparenting relationship during mother – father – child triadic interactions in kindergarten. When children were aged 18 months, mother – child and father – child interactions were assessed observationally with 136 families. Four and a half years later, the quality of the coparenting relationship was assessed during triadic interactions. Analyses revealed that fathers (but not mothers) who had higher-quality dyadic interactions with their toddler had better coparenting interactions with their spouse four and a half years later. This prediction held above child temperament and both parents’ marital satisfaction. These results highlight that the quality of father – child relationships may be centrally involved in the development of the coparenting alliance across the preschool years.



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