Previous research suggests that, compared with married couples, cohabiters have weaker ties with parents. However, we know little about cohabiters’ relationships with their partners’ parents – their ‘parents-in-law’. This study explores intergenerational solidarity with parents-in-law, but goes beyond a comparison of cohabitation versus marriage, distinguishing cohabiters by intentions to marry. Using the National Survey of Families and Households in the United States (N = 3,125), we observe significant differences between marrieds and cohabiters with plans to marry. The exchange of practical and emotional support with parents-in-law is lowest for cohabiters who have intentions to marry, rather than cohabiters who have no intentions to marry. Findings suggest that cohabiters with plans to marry have different normative obligations to parents-in-law, but that cohabiters with no plans to marry are more similar to married couples. Implications for practitioners include the importance of distinguishing types of cohabiters and understanding how normative obligations to parents-in-law may differ.
Previous research on family structure and child development has largely focused on the disadvantages faced by children who transitioned out of married families. However, we know less about how family structure affects child outcomes for children starting out in single-mother families. In this article, we use the kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to analyse children’s academic outcomes between kindergarten and eighth grade. We found that living in single-mother or step-families was clearly associated with lower test scores for children starting kindergarten in married biological-parent families, but the same disadvantages associated with living outside a married biological-parent family structure were not found for children starting kindergarten in single-mother families. We also found preliminary evidence of a buffering effect of maternal education in the relationship between family structure and children’s academic outcomes.