Positive parental engagement: Investigating the role of the mother–father relationship.

Promoting positive parental engagement (e.g., reading to the child, practicing nursery rhymes with the child, playing with the child) is beneficial for children. Previous research has largely been limited to only maternal reports and relatively affluent families. The current study longitudinally investigated spillover between positive experiences in the mother–father relationship and positive parental engagement using an ethnically and economically diverse sample of parents. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3,780 mother–father dyads)—and guided by family systems theory—we tested a series of path analysis models. Positive relationship experiences predicted positive parental engagement over time (from child’s birth–5 years of age) for both mothers and fathers. Furthermore, strength of associations between positive relationship experiences and positive parental engagement largely did not differ based on family structure, poverty, or race. These findings highlight the importance of investigating the mother–father relationship using a family systems framework to better understand positive parental engagement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)