Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)

First Advisor

Kyle Cook

Second Advisor

Evan Ortileb

Third Advisor

Michael Sampson


Marital relations and family structure have evolved over the years. Transformations in marriage, divorce, and cohabitation have altered family life in many parts of the world including the United States. Single-parent families are on the rise. Social scientists are concerned with the diminishing role of family and imminent decline in parental involvement in child’s education. This demands a closer look into the effects of parental marital relationships on parents’ involvement and children’s literacy outcomes. The current study examined the connections between parental marital status, parental involvement, and literacy outcomes of kindergarten children by using the nationally representative, Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 dataset. The results showed that the reading scores of the children living in intact families with two parents were statistically significantly higher than their peers living with single parents and other guardians after taking demographics including age, gender, race/ethnicity, language, socio-economic status, and location of schools into account. The demographic characteristics of children had differential impact on the association between parental marital status and children’s reading scores. The results also indicated that parental involvement statistically significantly mediated the association between parent marital status and children’s reading scores. However, the study posed a challenge on the common belief that two parents are always better for children’s literacy outcomes, finding that single parents had enhanced parental involvement compared to. This suggests that the association between family structure and children’s outcomes could not be considered in isolation from demographic variables. The importance of the study lies in its contribution to inform the policy and practice of the nuances of family relation and its complex interplays with demographics and children’s outcomes that would help the educators to devise suitable interventions to address the needs of children from diverse families.