Get access

When Children Have Two Mothers: Relationships With Nonresident Mothers, Stepmothers, and Fathers


Department of Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, 211 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802 (


Using data on 294 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health who live with a biological father and have both a resident stepmother and a nonresident biological mother, this study examines the prevalence, antecedents, and consequences of adolescents’ closeness to each of their parents. Findings demonstrate that adolescents vary in their likelihood of having close relationships to resident fathers, resident stepmothers, and nonresident biological mothers, but when they can do so, they appear to benefit. Close relationships with both resident fathers and nonresident mothers are associated with fewer adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. Closeness to resident stepmothers, however, is unrelated to these two outcomes. Results suggest that fathers play a particularly important role in these families.