This factsheet explores the impact of stepfather involvement on child well-being. Research is cited that indicates although stepfathers are generally less involved with children than are biological fathers, they can have positive impacts on child and maternal outcomes. Studies suggest: stepfathers are generally less involved with children than are resident biological fathers; stepfathers typically show low levels of positive demeanor toward children and are less likely to express positive feelings toward or be supportive of children; stepfathers are perceived as being less successful at parenting than are biological fathers; and the quality of stepfathers' parenting tends to be lower than the quality of parenting exhibited by resident biological fathers. Possible reasons for the low levels of stepfather involvement are noted, and factors that impact stepfather involvement are identified. Overall, research results indicate children who are raised with stepfathers fare no better than children who are raised in single-parent families and that stepchildren typically have poorer outcomes than do children in families headed by two biological parents. Additional findings are shared on the positive effects stepfathers can have on child outcomes and factors that impact the adjustment of children in stepfamilies. Data is shared on the differences between the father involvement of social fathers versus resident biological fathers from Child Trends' analyses of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study baseline and 12-month surveys. The study included 3,712 unmarried couples and 1,186 married couples who were interviewed at the birth of their child. 2 figures, 2 tables, and 64 references.
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