This paper examines changes in marriage as an institution for rearing children in the United States. It reviews the effects of marital instability and living arrangements on children's welfare, and focuses on how children's economic, emotional, and social needs are met when parents separate. The review shows that changes in marriage and childrearing have different consequences for women and men. For women, marriage and parenthood are distinct institutions. Women provide for children's needs, whether or not the women are married to their children's fathers. For men, marriage defines responsibilities to children. At divorce, men typically disengage from their biological children. When men remarry they may acquire new children whom they help to support. The review describes the effects on children of divorced mothers' and fathers' varying commitments to childrearing. It considers the difficulties that divorced parents experience when they try to continue to share responsibilities for children after separation, and it suggests avenues for future research.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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