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1.  Viewing Low-Income Fathers’ Ties to Families through a Cultural Lens: Insights for Research and Policy 
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.
PMCID: PMC3103135  PMID: 21625346
child support; cultural analysis; father involvement; low-income fathers; marriage; responsible fatherhood; union transitions
2.  The Risk of Divorce as a Barrier to Marriage among Parents of Young Children 
Social science research  2008;37(4):1188-1199.
Using data from the Fragile Families Study, we examine how unmarried parents’ risk of divorce influences their decision to marry. Regression results show that unmarried parents with a high predicted probability of marital dissolution (based on estimates of marital dissolution for a sample of initially married mothers with similar characteristics) had significantly lower odds of marriage to the father of their child even after controlling for individual and relationship characteristics expected to influence marriage transitions. The dissolution propensity we examine also includes a measure of the local divorce climate. As such, our results provide support for the argument that high rates of divorce in the population have led to a fear of divorce among unmarried parents which reduces their probability of marriage.
PMCID: PMC2621327  PMID: 19227697
3.  Family Man in the Other America: New Opportunities, Motivations, and Supports for Paternal Caregiving 
This analysis draws on longitudinal, qualitative interviews with disadvantaged mothers and fathers who participated in the Fragile Families Study (a U.S. birth cohort study) to examine how issues related to men's employment, social support, skills, and motivation facilitated their care of young children in different relationship contexts. Interviews with parents indicate that while some motivated and skilled men actively chose to become caregivers with the support of mothers, others developed new motivations, skills, and parenting supports in response to situations in which they were out of work or the mother was experiencing challenges. These findings suggest that disadvantaged men who assume caregiving responsibilities take different paths to involvement in the early years after their child's birth. Policies that overlook paternal caregivers may not only miss the opportunity to support relationships that benefit at-risk children but also unintentionally undermine this involvement.
PMCID: PMC2752901  PMID: 19789724
caregiving; fathers; custodial fathers; fragile families; low-income fathers; primary caregivers; public policy; shared parenting

Results 1-3 (3)