Romantic partner and biological father support: Associations with maternal distress in low-income mexican-origin families

Henry Gonzalez, Melissa A. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Paternal support is often linked to lower levels of maternal psychological distress; however, research has seldom considered the increasing numbers of Mexican-origin families with a romantic partner social (RPS) father (i.e., mothers' partners who are not formally identified as stepfathers). This study applied a bioecological systems framework to test linkages between support from RPS fathers and maternal depressive symptoms and parenting stress and to consider whether nonresident biological father support and instrumental social support moderate these associations. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, the authors analyzed a subsample of Mexican-origin mothers (N = 76) with 3-year-old children. Findings indicated that maternal perceptions of support from RPS fathers were inversely related to depressive symptomatology only when mothers also perceived high levels of support from biological fathers, and the relationship with the RPS father began recently. Neither RPS nor biological father support was associated with maternal parenting stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-383
Number of pages13
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014



  • Maternal depressive symptomatology
  • Mexican-origin families
  • Nonresident biological fathers
  • Parenting stress
  • Romantic partner social fathers
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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