Both maternal and paternal parental involvement are critical for child development. What is unclear, nonetheless, is how parents’ own relationships contribute to the growth of children. Addressing the question, we predicted marital satisfaction strengthens parenting efficacy, making parental involvement more effective in increasing children’s functioning. To test the hypothesis, we analyzed a nationally representative large-sample survey of 3-year-olds (N = 2164), wherein their language, cognitive, social, and emotional development, maternal and paternal parental involvement, as well as the marital satisfaction of the parents were assessed. The results supported the predictions by showing the critical role of fathers—the mother parents through the father in a satisfying marriage, more than she does in a dissatisfying marriage, and their young children subsequently grow better when their parents are satisfying partners. Together, the findings reveal potential mechanisms through which well-being may be passed down from one generation to the next.
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