Stepfathers make better parents than biological dads?

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In some families, the original isn't always the best when it comes to fathers. For 'fragile families', described as low-income urban families prone to non marital births, mothers say that stepfathers are often more engaged, cooperative and willing to share responsibilities than married biological fathers.

A new study finds that while married biological fathers and stepfathers may be almost equally engaged with the children themselves, it is their interaction with mom that often makes stepfathers better parents. The mothers surveyed reported that stepfathers shared their parental views and were more open to talking about their parental wants than natural fathers. Rebekah Levine Coley, a developmental psychologist at Boston College, says this is probably because stepfathers "have to work harder to fit in and to have a useful productive role."

Coley says the findings contradict the popular view among social workers and experts that dads are more invested if the child is of their own flesh and blood. "I think this research does, to some extent, call some of those assumptions into question," she said.

The conclusions were made after interviewing 2,098 urban mothers from the The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study and will be published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

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