Children's perspectives on their relationships with their nonresident fathers: influences, outcomes and implications

J Dunn, H Cheng, T G O'Connor, L Bridges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Children's relationships with their nonresident fathers, and associations between these relationships, children's relationships with mothers and stepfathers, and the children's adjustment were studied in 162 children from single-parent and stepfamilies, selected from a representative community sample in the UK, studied at 2 time points two years apart. Method: Children were interviewed about their relationships with their nonresident fathers, mothers and stepfathers; mothers reported on children's adjustment, and other family variables. Results: Positive child-nonresident father relationships were correlated with (a) contact between child and father, (b) the quality of the mother-child relationship, and (c) the frequency of contact between the mother and her former partner. Conflict between child and father was correlated with conflict between child and mother, and child and stepfather. Child-nonresident father contact and relationships were stable over 2 years, and related to children's adjustment; these associations were stronger for children from single-parent families than for those with stepfathers, and for those whose mothers had been first pregnant as teenagers. Conclusions: Associations between the quality of children's relationships with nonresident fathers and their adjustment need to be considered within the framework of the larger family system; child-father relationships are particularly important for children from 'high risk' families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553 - 566
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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