Expanding perspectives of fatherhood involvement: results from a national study

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University of Alabama Libraries

Background. Children who have parents that are positively involved in their upbringing have better physical, social, emotional and learning outcomes. Contemporary models of fathering acknowledge that fathers can positively contribute to a child’s upbringing in a variety of ways. The objective of this dissertation research was to identify patterns of father involvement and their correlates in a nationally representative sample of men. This research was based on Lamb and colleagues’ 3-factor framework of father involvement which includes the domains of responsibility, accessibility and engagement. The following research questions provided direction for this study; (1) What patterns of father involvement are exhibited in a nationally representative sample of men with young children (0-4 years of age)? (2) What associations exist between father involvement and sociodemographic characteristics? (3) To what extent does family planning predict father involvement? Methods. Weighted data were analyzed for a subset of fathers (i.e., men 18-44 years of age with young residential children [0 – 4 years]) from the 2013-2015 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). Exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM), integrating exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, was employed to answer research question one. Weighted mixed effects logistic regression models were produced to answer research questions two and three. Results. Fit indices (e.g., χ2, CFI/TLI, and WRMR) supported a three-factor structure of father involvement. However, only the engagement domain specified by theory was found. The engagement factor structure was similar for Whites and Black fathers (manuscript 1). Age and race were significant predictors of emotional and caretaking engagement (manuscript 2). Perceived happiness about the conception of a first child was associated with caretaking and travel engagement (manuscript 3). Conclusion. Our findings expand and challenge existing views of father involvement supported by theorists and practitioners. Future research should be conducted with fathers of older children to confirm or challenge these results.

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Health education