Inter-parental similarity in responsiveness and control and its association with perceptions of the marital relationship

Roi Estlein, Jennifer A. Theiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined how similarities and differences between spouses'parenting styles art associated with characteristics of their marital relationship. First, we explored the extent to which husbands and wives are similar or different in their attitudes about and communication of parental responsiveness and parental control. Then, we investigated how similarity in partners' parental communication predicts perceptions of the marital relationship. We conducted a study in which 51 families, consisting of a married heterosexual couple and their 3-6 year old child, each completed a survey about their parenting belief and marital relationship and participated in interaction tasks where spouses evaluated each others parenting behavior. Independent coders rated parent-child interactions for observed parental responsiveness and control. Results showed that spouses were interdependent in terms of observed parental responsiveness and both self-reported and observed parental control. Multi-level modeling revealed that similarity across spouses in terms of observed parental responsiveness and self-reported and observed parental control were positively associated with marital satisfaction. In addition, similarity of observed responsiveness and observed control were associated with more positive evaluations of a partner's parenting behavior. Our results are discussed in terms of implications for understanding coparenting dynamics and interdependence between spouses.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)239-256
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Dec 2014


  • Coparenting
  • Family communication
  • Family systems
  • Marital relationship
  • Parenting

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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