Examining the association between family relationships and depressive symptoms among African American stepfathers
Hicks, Megan Renee
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This study, guided by the family systems and family stress perspectives, examined the manner in which the quality of stepfather-stepchild relationships was associated with stepfathers’ depressive symptoms and two aspects of marriage: (a) marital behaviors and (b) marital quality. Using data collected from 149 African American stepfathers, structural equation modeling revealed that positive stepfather-stepchild relationship quality was not directly associated with stepfathers’ depressive symptoms. Stepfather-stepchild relationship quality was linked to stepfathers’ depressive symptoms through marital behaviors (relationship solidifying activities such as talking or going out together), but not through marital quality (assessed in terms of commitment, love, happiness). This means that when stepfathers reported more positive relationships with their stepchildren, they also reported more positive marital quality and a higher frequency of positive marital behaviors. Those stepfathers reporting a higher frequency of marital behaviors, in turn, tended to report experiencing fewer depressive symptoms. Findings can be used to identify strategies for improving stepfamily relationships.