Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

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Child support enforcement and domestic
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Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Family Structure’s Impact on Children’s Development 64 2004
Family Structure’s Impact on Children’s Development
The case for marriage education is being based upon research that draws the conclusion
that children have better outcomes when growing up in a family of two married
biological parents in a nonconflicitua l relationship (Parke & Ooms, 2002). Today about
two-thirds of children are living with two married, biological parents (Parke, 2003). If
the child is living with biological parents in a middle class context in which adequate
financial resources are available to support their health and development, that child has
the best of all worlds to foster development.
However, frequently comparisons are made between children growing up in the ideal of
the biological two parent family with other forms of families. To accurately draw
conclusions concerning the influence that family structure has upon children’s
development, appropriate comparisons of groups of children with the same family
structure need to be made, such as two-biological married parents versus two-biological
parents cohabitating, stepfamilies married versus stepfamilies cohabitating (Hoselter &
Stauffer, 2002). Not only is the family structure of importance, but also the
socioeconomic family context. Poor families face stresses that impact their adult
relationship decisions and their children’s development that middle class families
typically do not.
When accurate comparisons are made it appears that biological parentage rather than
martial status is more important in determining child well-being (Manning, 2002). When
the focus of the discussion of the impact of children’s well-being shifts to the impact that
growing up with one’s biological parents has upon their overall development, clearer
comparisons can be made. Overall, children growing up with biological parents whether
married or cohabiting, fare the same in terms of school achievement and behavior
problems (Hoselter & Stauffer, 2002). Even in families where both biological parents are
present children experience poor outcomes in high conflict family environments. High
conflict family contexts lower children’s emotional well-being and increase behavior
problems (Parke, 2003).
Of equal importance is the impact that the parent’s race and education make upon the
outcomes of their children’s development.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Veronica S. Haggerty

Counselor/Therapist

"A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best things that can happen to you. However, it can also be one of the biggest drains on you if the relationship is not working. Relationships are like bank accounts. The more you put in, the more you get back. Falling in love is the easy part, but long term relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change through life as a team. Learn about ways to keep a healthy relationship strong, or begin to today to work on repairing trust and renewing love for a relationship on the rocks".

Location: New Hope, PA
Credentials: MA, MFT, RN

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