Parental Depression and Cooperative Coparenting: A Longitudinal and Dyadic Approach

Deadric T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relationship between parental depression and cooperative coparenting among couples over the first 5 years after a birth. Background: Previous research has considered how depression affects coparenting but has not focused on the association as a longitudinal and dyadic process. Understanding coparenting is important as it is linked to parents' and children's well-being. Method: Data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study were analyzed using actor–partner interdependence models. The FFCW follows families and their children as part of a birth cohort of children who were born in large urban cities of the United States in the late 1990s. Results: The actor–partner interdependence models indicated that (a) parents' depression is associated with decreased coparenting perceptions for both mothers and fathers, and the effects endure over time; (b) fathers' depression was also associated with mothers' perceptions of cooperative coparenting over the later years; and (c) differences between mothers and fathers emerged only during the early years, with the effect of depression on coparenting being larger for fathers than mothers. Conclusion: The results not only highlight the importance of both parents' mental health on coparenting but also the added role that fathers' depression plays in shaping their own and their partners' perceptions of coparenting. Implications: Policy makers and family practitioners who are invested in building healthy families may find it valuable to screen for and treat mental illness in the context of creating programs to increase cooperative coparenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-269
Number of pages17
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • coparenting
  • couple/marital/romantic relationships
  • mental health issues: depression
  • statistical methods: dyadic data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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