We identify and discuss mothers' early strategies to recruit nonresidential biological fathers, intimate partners, male family members and friends, and paternal kin to support the needs of young children in low-income families. Using the concept of kinscription and longitudinal ethnographic data on 149 African American, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White families from Welfare, Children and Families: A Three-City Study, we developed a model of recruitment that includes three related processes: the search for legitimacy with conventional fathers and partners, the consequences of maternal advocacy for intimate relationships, and protection of children and reduction of risks to family well-being. Results indicate that mothers' co-opting of fathers and father figures to support their children is shaped by men's immigration status, the tenuous nature of romantic relationships, and fathers' intergenerational caregiving responsibilities. Implications for theories of coparenting and partner dynamics in low-income families and for policy and programs are discussed. (Author abstract).
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