Policy makers have become increasingly interested in addressing the cultural dimensions of child support, “responsible fatherhood,” and marriage in poor communities. However, policy studies have primarily focused on identifying economic determinants of these issues, with a substantial amount of variation in their statistical models left unexplained. This article draws on in-depth interviews the author conducted with disadvantaged mothers and fathers to illustrate how a systematic investigation into the meaning of low-income men’s ties to families may fill in or provide alternative explanations for some important questions related to paternal involvement. In particular, it suggests that analyzing fathers’ relationships through a cultural lens may not only reveal new information about the meaning of their emotional involvement, informal support, care of children, and conflicts with mothers which future policy studies should consider but may also inform policy initiatives by reducing the risk that they will be misdirected or have unintended consequences for poor families.
child support; cultural analysis; father involvement; low-income fathers; marriage; responsible fatherhood; union transitions
The present study examined associations between unwed mothers’ residency and romantic relationships with the biological father during the transition to a new baby and mothers’ later parenting stress. It also examined whether fathers’ financial and caregiving support accounted for variation in parenting stress across relationship trajectories.
Data were drawn from first two waves of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) (N = 2,736 in 18 cities), with relationship status measured at the focal child’s birth and one year later, and parenting stress measured one year after birth.
Parenting stress was highest among mothers who broke up with the father during the first year and lowest among those in consistent romantic relationships regardless of parents’ coresidence status. Both fathers’ financial and caregiving support mediated the association between relationship dissolution and higher maternal parenting stress, although caregiving support accounted for a larger proportion of the variation.
Programs to support low-income, unwed mothers should understand the hardships of a breakup may spill over into other socioemotional domains, such as parenting, when experienced during the transition to a new baby and that mothers who have experienced a breakup may require additional caregiving support services during this vulnerable time.
Attendant to the exponential increase in rates of incarceration of mothers with young children in the United States, programming has been established to help mothers attend to parenting skills and other family concerns while incarcerated. Unfortunately, most programs overlook the important, ongoing relationship between incarcerated mothers and family members caring for their children—most often, the inmates' own mothers. Research reveals that children's behavior problems escalate when different co-caregivers fail to coordinate parenting efforts and interventions, work in opposition, or disparage or undermine one another. This article presents relevant research on co-caregiving and child adjustment, highlights major knowledge gaps in need of study to better understand incarcerated mothers and their families, and proposes that existing interventions with such mothers can be strengthened through targeting and cultivating functional coparenting alliances in families.
This study investigated relations between father involvement in caregiving and play and coparenting behavior using self-report and observational data from 80 two-parent families of preschool-aged children, and examined parents’ nontraditional beliefs about fathers’ roles and family earner status as moderators of these relations. Results indicated that greater father involvement in caregiving and play was associated with less observed undermining coparenting behavior in dual-earner families. Conversely, greater father involvement in caregiving was associated with less perceived supportive and greater perceived undermining coparenting behavior in single-earner families. Father involvement in play was not related to coparenting behavior among single-earner families. This study highlights the importance of considering parental employment patterns and the multidimensional nature of fathering behavior when studying fathering and coparenting.
Drawing on attachment and caregiving theory and the concept of motivation, the purpose of this descriptive study was to examine parents’ retrospective accounts of their prenatal experiences after receiving the diagnosis of a fetal heart defect. These parents constituted a subgroup of participants in a larger longitudinal study of parenting an infant with a complex congenital heart defect. Data were derived from 14 semistructured interviews with 13 mothers and 3 fathers in the home or hospital setting. A directed content analysis yielded a central category of preparing heart and mind for infant caregiving. Preparing heart and mind is a preliminary caregiving goal within the caregiving system that generates intentions and expectations indicative of specific caregiving motivations to relate to the baby, handle circumstances practically, and manage infant medical care. A theoretical model illustrates the prenatal process these parents engaged in to provide care to their infants with life-threatening medical conditions.
families; caregiving; hope; infants; high-risk; motivation; parenting; pregnancy
This descriptive study examined the relationship between home care nursing support, sleep and daytime functioning in familial caregivers of ventilator-assisted children. Thirty-six primary caregivers (27 mothers, seven fathers, one foster mother, and one grandmother) of ventilator-assisted children completed measures of home nursing support, sleep, depression, fatigue, and daytime sleepiness. Daytime nursing coverage was not related to caregiver sleep or daytime functioning, but caregivers with less nighttime nursing coverage had significantly shorter sleep onset latency than caregivers with some night nursing (16–48 hours/week). Caregivers with regular night nursing (>48 hours/week) had a total sleep time of almost one hour more than caregivers without regular night nursing (≤ 48 hours/week). Caregivers with clinically significant symptoms of depression and sleepiness received significantly fewer hours of night nursing/week than caregivers without significant symptoms of depression or sleepiness. Home nursing support, in particular night nursing, is important for the health and well-being of familial caregivers of ventilator-assisted children.
Home care nursing; caregivers; ventilator-dependent; sleep; functioning
High rates of incarceration among American men, coupled with high rates of fatherhood among men in prison, have motivated recent research on the effects of parental imprisonment on children’s development. We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the relationship between paternal incarceration and developmental outcomes for approximately 3,000 urban children. We estimate cross-sectional and longitudinal regression models that control not only for fathers’ basic demographic characteristics and a rich set of potential confounders, but also for several measures of pre-incarceration child development and family fixed effects. We find significant increases in aggressive behaviors among children whose fathers are incarcerated, and some evidence of increased attention problems. The estimated effects of paternal incarceration are stronger than those of other forms of father absence, suggesting that children with incarcerated fathers may require specialized support from caretakers, teachers, and social service providers. The estimated effects are stronger for children who lived with their fathers prior to incarceration, but are also significant for children of nonresident fathers, suggesting that incarceration places children at risk through family hardships including and beyond parent-child separation.
Fatherhood has traditionally been viewed as part of a “package deal” in which a father’s relationship with his child is contingent on his relationship with the mother. We evaluate the accuracy of this hypothesis in light of the high rates of multiple-partner fertility among unmarried parents using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a recent longitudinal survey of nonmarital births in large cities. We examine whether unmarried mothers’ and fathers’ subsequent relationship and parenting transitions are associated with declines in fathers’ contact with their nonresident biological children. We find that father involvement drops sharply after relationships between unmarried parents end. Mothers’ transitions into new romantic partnerships and new parenting roles are associated with larger declines in involvement than fathers’ transitions. Declines in fathers’ involvement following a mother’s relationship or parenting transition are largest when children are young. We discuss the implications of our results for the well-being of nonmarital children and the quality of nonmarital relationships faced with high levels of relationship instability and multiple-partner fertiliy.
The association between marital status and health among men has been well-documented, but few studies track health trajectories following family structure transitions among unmarried fathers. Using the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study this paper examines trajectories of paternal self-rated and mental health, focusing on transitions into and out of residential relationships with the child's biological mother or a new partner during a five-year post-birth period (N = 4,331). Continuously married fathers report higher time-specific observed self-rated health and fewer mental health problems than continuously single fathers, controlling for underlying health trajectories. The disparity, however, does not increase over time, providing little support for the marital resource model during these years. Static group differences suggest that resources fathers carry with them into unions may buffer them from the negative effects of union dissolution. The implications of these findings for cohabitation, as well as selection and causation arguments are also discussed.
family structure; marriage; health; fathers
To examine the relationship between maternal intimate partner violence (IPV) and asthma onset in children and the role of supportive caregiving factors in modifying this relationship.
Prospective birth cohort.
In-person interview at enrollment as well as in-home interviews during study follow-up.
Children (N=3116) enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.
Maternal-report of IPV assessed after the child’s birth and at 12 and 36 months. In addition mothers indicated how many days a week they participated in activities with the child and the amount and type of educational/recreational toys available for the child.
Maternal-report of physician-diagnosed asthma by age 36 months.
Asthma was diagnosed in 19% of children. In adjusted analysis, children of mothers experiencing IPV chronically, compared to those not exposed, had a 2-fold increased risk of developing asthma. In stratified analysis, children of mothers experiencing IPV and low levels of mother-child activities (RR 2.7, 95% CI 1.6, 4.7) had a significant increased risk for asthma. Those exposed to IPV and high levels of mother-child activities had a lower risk for asthma (RR 1.6, 95% CI 0.9, 3.2). A similar buffering effect was noted among children with high numbers of educational/recreational toys.
IPV is associated with increased early childhood asthma risk. Maternal ability to maintain positive caregiving processes in this context may buffer the effects of violence on child asthma risk. The best way to promote positive health in toddlers may be to help their mothers.
domestic violence; asthma; parent-child interactions; self-regulation
This study compares psychosocial well-being between paternal and maternal orphans in rural China in a sample (N = 459) of children who had lost one parent to HIV and who were in family-based care. Measures included academic marks, education expectation, trusting relationships with current caregivers, self-reported health status, depression, loneliness, posttraumatic stress, and social support. No significant differences were found between maternal and paternal orphans, except that paternal orphans reported better trusting relationships with caregivers than maternal orphans. Children with a healthy surviving parent reported significantly better depression, loneliness, posttraumatic stress, and social support scores than children with a sick parent. Analyses revealed significance with regard to orphan status on academic marks and trusting relationships with caregivers while controlling for age, gender, surviving parent’s health status, and family SES. Findings underscore the importance of psychosocial support for children whose surviving parent is living with HIV or another illness.
AIDS; China; HIV; maternal orphans; paternal orphans; well-being
One-hundred twelve primarily European American and middle-class two-parent families with resident fathers and a 4-year-old child (48% girls) participated in a longitudinal study of associations between coparenting and father involvement. At the initial assessment and one year later, fathers reported on their involvement in play and caregiving activities with the focal child, and coparenting behavior was observed during triadic family interactions. SEM was used to test cross-lagged associations between coparenting behavior and father involvement. Overall, paths from father involvement to coparenting behavior were significant, but paths from coparenting behavior to father involvement were not. Specifically, greater father involvement in play was associated with an increase in supportive and a decrease in undermining coparenting behavior over time. In contrast, greater father involvement in caregiving was associated with a decrease in supportive and an increase in undermining coparenting behavior. Multi-group analysis further showed that these cross-lagged relations did not differ for dual earner families and single (father) earner families, but these relations appeared to differ for families with focal daughters and families with focal sons. These findings highlight the potential for fathering to affect coparenting and the importance of considering the role of contextual factors in coparenting-fathering relations.
father involvement; coparenting; child gender; moderation; longitudinal study
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned that non-marital childbearing and marital dissolution were undermining the progress of African Americans. I argue that what Moynihan identified as a race-specific problem in the 1960s has now become a class-based phenomena as well. Using data from a new birth cohort study, I show that unmarried parents come from much more disadvantaged populations than married parents. I further argue that non-marital childbearing reproduces class and racial disparities through its association with partnership instability and multi-partnered fertility. These processes increase in maternal stress and mental health problems, reduce the quality of mothers’ parenting, reduce paternal investments, and ultimately lead to poor outcomes in children. Finally, by spreading fathers’ contributions across multiple households, partnership instability and multi-partnered fertility undermine the importance of individual fathers’ contributions of time and money which is likely to affect the future marriage expectations of both sons and daughters.
Family structure; family instability; poverty; inequality; parenting; child wellbeing
Teachers, parents and foundations should become objective-oriented for children with visual impairment so that learning and sensitization of necessary knowledge and skills for the behaviors of these children are assisted. Where there is impairment in the relations of children caregivers, their emotional security is disturbed and its effects will appear in their behaviors. Therefore, strong dependence on parents, teachers and other adults is the characteristics of most of the children with physical problems including blind children. Since use of the experiences of caregivers of these children increases their efficiency and life skills, this study was conducted aiming to understand the experiences of blind children caregivers in Isfahan.
Materials and Methods:
This study was a qualitative study with a phenomenological approach to investigate the experiences of blind children caregivers including mothers and teachers. Four mothers of blind children and four caregivers of blind children were purposefully selected and interviewed from 2007 to 2009. Data were collected through interviews which were recorded on cassette tapes. The obtained data were analyzed using Collizzi method.
The experiences of the blind children caregivers were divided into two groups of challenge and role.
The results of this study showed that upon diagnosing the child’s blindness, the parents suffer from mental stress. At first, they deny the problem, but then they begin to come along and accept the blind child. At this time, they analyze the effective factors in keeping and educating the child. At the same time, they act in response to the child influenced by several factors including the role of the society.
Caregivers; blind; phenomenology
This is a report of post-treatment findings from a completed randomized pilot study testing the preliminary efficacy of The Mothers and Toddlers Program (MTP), a 12 week attachment-based individual parenting therapy for mothers enrolled in substance abuse treatment and caring for children ages birth to 36 months. Forty-seven mothers were randomized to MTP versus the Parent Education Program (PE) – a comparison intervention providing individual case management and child guidance brochures. At post-treatment, MTP mothers demonstrated better reflective functioning in the Parent Development Interview, representational coherence and sensitivity, and caregiving behavior than PE mothers. Partial support was also found for proposed mechanisms of change in the MTP model. Together, preliminary findings suggest that attachment-based interventions may be more effective than traditional parent training for enhancing relationships between substance using women and their young children.
Substance abuse; Parent training; Mother-child relations; Attachment; Intervention
The present study examined mean level similarities and differences as well as correlations between mothers’ and fathers’ attributions regarding successes and failures in caregiving situations and progressive versus authoritarian attitudes.
Interviews were conducted with both mothers and fathers in 77 Swedish families.
Fathers reported higher adult-controlled failure and child-controlled failure attributions than did mothers; these differences remained significant after controlling for parents’ age, education, and possible social desirability bias. Significant positive correlations were found for mothers’ and fathers’ progressive attitudes, authoritarian attitudes, and modernity of attitudes after controlling for parents’ age, education, and possible social desirability bias.
We conclude that in Sweden fathers are more likely to attribute failures in caregiving situations both to themselves and to children than are mothers and that there is moderate concordance between fathers and mothers within the same family in progressive and authoritarian parenting attitudes.
This article examines the determinants of men's early parental roles, distinguishing factors that affect being a father versus being childless, and factors that affect being a resident versus a nonresident father, in the context of having a partner or not. We also consider whether these patterns have changed between 1985 and 2004. The data come from the linked Child-Mother and Young Adult Samples of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), which provide information on the children of the NLSY79 from birth until they enter young adulthood, and from the original youth sample of parallel ages. The results support previous research showing the importance of economic and educational disadvantages and nontraditional family structure on being a non-resident father. The effects of family structure appear to have attenuated between generations as determinants of men's early parental roles.
fatherhood; family structure; cohort change
An historic number of women in the US have children outside of marriage, and with more than one father, yet little research has examined the association between family process and women’s childbearing decisions. Using a subsample of unmarried women from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=2028), a study of primarily low-income unmarried parents, we conducted discrete-time survival analysis models to predict whether women had another child with the focal child’s father (same-father birth) or with a new father (new-father birth). Father involvement was measured by engagement, indirect care, accessibility, and financial support. Overall, mothers who reported greater engagement and indirect care from the focal child’s father were more likely to have a same-father birth even when he was not living in her home, and were also less likely to have a new-father birth. Further, mothers who reported greater accessibility and stable financial support from the focal child’s nonresident father were also less likely to have a new-father birth. One pathway through which this may have occurred was that single mothers who perceived less indirect care and accessibility from the focal child’s nonresident father were more likely to begin new romantic relationships. Indeed, whether or not the mother had a new romantic partner partially mediated the association between indirect care and a same-father birth, and fully mediated the association between accessibility and a new-father birth, suggesting that one pathway linking father involvement to a new-father birth was through maternal repartnering. Clinical and policy implications are discussed.
father involvement; childbearing; repartnering; multipartner fertility; nonmarital fertility
OBJECTIVE: To examine the experiences of men who are sole caregivers for their elderly parents. DESIGN: Semistructured in-depth interviews. SETTING: Family practice clinic attached to a large tertiary care centre in north central Toronto. PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 10 men who identified themselves as sole caregivers in that they had no particular women assisting them with caregiving. METHOD: Interviews were analyzed by standard qualitative methods. MAIN FINDINGS: Emerging themes were the spectrum of caregiving, the experience of caregiving, and the use of formal support systems. Scope of care varied from very little to total care, including personal care. Participants described positive and negative aspects of and the nature of their relationships with those for whom they cared. Avoiding institutionalization was seen as positive; effects on work and social life were negative. Use of more than homemaking services was associated with previous hospitalization; participants complained about difficulties accessing services. CONCLUSIONS: The nature of sons' relationships with their parents and the amount of time they have available can predict how much caregiving they can undertake. Information about community support services is not readily accessible to these men.
Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) among families in China poses many challenges for caregivers and their children. A total of 154 caregivers of HIV/AIDS-affected children were interviewed to examine child behaviour in HIV/AIDS-affected families. Parenting skills were found to be correlated with child delinquency, and this correlation was influenced by the number of children in the family and the child’s age. Illiterate caregivers were more likely to have delinquent children, and parenting skills had less of an association with child delinquency among illiterate caregivers. Study findings underscore the necessity of emphasizing good parenting skills in interventions with caregivers of HIV/AIDS-affected children in China in order to improve child behaviour and overall family well-being.
HIV; China; child behaviour; parenting
The present study examined differences and similarities between Kenyan mothers and fathers in attributions regarding successes and failures in caregiving situations and progressive versus authoritarian attitudes.
Interviews were conducted with both mothers and fathers in 100 two-parent families in Kenya.
Mothers were more likely to make attributions regarding adult-controlled failure in caregiving situations than were fathers, but mothers and fathers did not differ on attributions regarding uncontrollable success, child-controlled failure, or authoritarian or progressive attitudes. Moderate to large correlations were found between mothers and fathers in terms of attributions regarding uncontrollable success, authoritarian attitudes, and modernity of attitudes.
Kenyan mothers and fathers hold very similar attributions for success and failures in caregiving situations as well as parenting attitudes.
The association among mothers’, fathers’, and infants’ risk and cognitive and social behaviors at 24 months was examined using SEM and data on 4,178 on toddlers and their parents from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. There were 3 main findings. First, for cognitive outcomes, maternal risk was directly and indirectly linked to it through maternal sensitivity whereas paternal risk was only indirectly related through maternal sensitivity. Second, for social behaviors, maternal and paternal risks were indirectly linked through maternal sensitivity and father engagement. Third, maternal and paternal levels of risk were linked to maternal supportiveness whereas mothers’ and children’s risk were linked to paternal cognitive stimulation. Implications are that policy makers must take into account effects of mothers’, children’s, and fathers’ risk on young children’s functioning.
Childhood/Children; Early childhood risk; ECLS-B; Fathers; Parenting
This study tested a hypothesized model of the relationships among parental depressive symptoms, family process (interparental negativity and negative parenting behavior), child internalizing symptoms and asthma disease activity. One hundred and six children with asthma, aged 7 to 17, participated with their fathers and mothers. Parental depressive symptoms were assessed by self-report. Interparental and parenting behaviors were observed and rated during family discussion tasks. Child internalizing symptoms were assessed by self-report and by clinician interview and rating. Asthma disease activity was assessed according to National Heart Lung and Blood Institute guidelines. Results of structural equation modeling generally supported interparental negativity and negative parenting behavior as mediators linking parental depressive symptoms and child emotional and physical dysfunction. However, paternal and maternal depressive symptoms play their role through different pathways of negative family process.
parental depressive symptoms; interparental negativity; negative parenting; child internalizing symptoms; asthma disease activity
Severe untreated dental decay affects a child’s growth, body weight, quality of life as well as cognitive development, and the effects extend beyond the child to the family, the community and the health care system. Early health behavioural factors, including dietary practices and eating patterns, can play a major role in the initiation and development of oral diseases, particularly dental caries. The parent/caregiver, usually the mother, has a critical role in the adoption of protective health care behaviours and parental feeding practices strongly influence children’s eating behaviours. This study will test if an early oral health promotion intervention through the use of brief motivational interviewing (MI) and anticipatory guidance (AG) approaches can reduce the incidence of early childhood dental decay and obesity.
The study will be a randomised controlled study with parents and their new-born child/ren who are seen at 6–12 weeks of age by a child/community health nurse. Consenting parents will complete a questionnaire on oral health knowledge, behaviours, self-efficacy, oral health fatalism, parenting stress, prenatal and peri-natal health and socio-demographic factors at study commencement and at 12 and 36 months. Each child–parent pair will be allocated to an intervention or a standard care group, using a computer-generated random blocks. The standard group will be managed through the standard early oral health screening program; “lift the lip”. The intervention group will be provided with tailored oral health counselling by oral health consultants trained in MI and AG.
Participating children will be examined at 24, and 36 months for the occurrence of dental decay and have their height and weight recorded. Dietary information obtained from a food frequency chart will be used to determine food and dietary patterns. Data analysis will use intention to treat and per protocol analysis and will use tests of independent proportions and means. Multivariate statistical tests will also be used to take account of socio-economic and demographic factors in addition to parental knowledge, behaviour, self-efficacy, and parent/child stress.
The study will test the effects of an oral health promotion intervention to affect oral health and general health and have the potential to demonstrate the “common risk factor” approach to health promotion.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: http://ACTRN12611000997954
Motivational interviewing; Anticipatory guidance; Early childhood dental decay; Oral health promotion
High U.S. incarceration rates have motivated recent research on the negative effects of imprisonment on later employment, earnings, and family relationships. Because most men in jail and prison are fathers, a large number of children may be placed at considerable risk by policies of incarceration. This article examines one dimension of the economic risk faced by children of incarcerated fathers: the reduction in the financial support that they receive. We use a population-based sample of urban children to examine the effects of incarceration on this support. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal regressions indicate that formerly incarcerated men are less likely to contribute to their families, and those who do contribute provide significantly less. The negative effects of incarceration on fathers’ financial support are due not only to the low earnings of formerly incarcerated men but also to their increased likelihood to live apart from their children. Men contribute far less through child support (formal or informal) than they do when they share their earnings within their household, suggesting that the destabilizing effects of incarceration on family relationships place children at significant economic disadvantage.
Incarceration; Fatherhood; Child support