Bernier, A., Cyr, C., Matte-Gagné, C., & Tarabulsy, G. (2021). Parent–child interactions as predictors of coparenting: A longitudinal study of family subsystems. Journal of Family Studies.


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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