The Importance of Biological Parent Coparenting in an American Indian Stepfamily Context


American Indians, coparenting, depression, Native Americans, stepfamilies


A number of protective factors associated with being American Indian exist; however, research shows that American Indians tend to experience higher rates of depressive symptoms than individuals of other racial or ethnic groups. Although prior research has examined sociocultural predictors of American Indian depression, less is known about the influence of familial functioning. This is particularly true for American Indian emerging adults who grew up in stepfamilies. This study examined retrospective data from 203 American Indians raised in stepfamilies on whether perceived coparenting between biological parents (post-stepfamily formation) was related to depression in emerging adulthood. Combining graded response and structural equation modeling, authors found that retrospectively perceived negative coparenting behaviors were significantly associated with depressive symptoms. Findings elucidate a particular risk for American Indians who perceive that their biological parents engage in poor coparenting behaviors post–stepfamily formation. Findings also encourage further research that examines associations between stepfamily functioning and mental health outcomes among American Indians.

Original Publication Citation

Ward, K., & Limb, G. (2019). The importance of biological coparenting in an American Indian stepfamily context. Social Work Research, 43(3), 168-180.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Social Work Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor