Unmarried Coparenting in the Context of Poverty: Understanding the Relationship Between Stress, Family Resource Management, and Resilience


Due to rising rates of non-marital birth in the United States, unmarried families have been the subject of extensive research and the target of government funded interventions over the last 15 years. Despite a growing literature on this population, few studies have addressed how unmarried couples coparent in the context of poverty. In the present study we used in-depth interviews with paired mothers and fathers to explore resilience processes in unmarried coparenting. We found that unmarried couples aspired to be good coparents, but the stress of living in poverty and the challenges of parenting young children led some to experience family strain or crisis. Using family stress theory as a framework for organizing the findings, we concluded that family resource management distinguished couples that adapted successfully to the task of coparenting from those that struggled to do so. Implications for theory, future research, and practice are discussed.


Family Studies

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Journal of Family and Economic Issues



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