When it comes to fathering practices, a dad’s resources, beliefs matter
The study examined whether and how a father’s income and education levels, relationships at home, and views on parenting related to a father’s involvement,sex and relationships Updated: Jun 11, 2017 19:55 IST
According to a recent study, a father’s resources, relationships and parenting beliefs affect how he spends time with his children and financially provides for his family.
“We found a range of different characteristics influenced father involvement in unique ways, from caregiving to financial investment. For example, what predicted how often fathers read to their children was not only their level of education, but also their beliefs about gender roles in the family,” said lead author Tamarie Macon. “The bottom line: Both structural circumstances and fathers’ personal beliefs matter.”
The study led by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development examined whether and how a father’s income and education levels, relationships at home, and views on parenting related to a father’s involvement, as measured by time spent with children in a variety of activities as well as financial investment.
Participants for the study were drawn from the Early Head Start Father Involvement with Toddlers Study. A total of 478 ethnically and racially diverse low-income fathers were included.
Researchers visited fathers in their homes when their children were 2 years old and gathered information on fathers’ demographic and personal characteristics, including age, race/ethnicity, and resources as measured by income and education levels.
The researchers also asked a series of questions about activities fathers do with their children, the father-mother relationship, and personal parenting beliefs. The researchers’ analysis found that a father’s resources - education and money - were linked to different forms of involvement in different ways. More educated fathers spent more time with their children in caregiving and cognitive activities, but less time in social activities. Fathers with higher incomes were more involved in taking their children to religious services but less involved in infrequent activities like going to the zoo or a museum.
“For instance, higher-income fathers may have more availability on the weekends versus the workweek and focus their involvement on weekend activities, such as attending religious services,” Macon said. “Separating education and income as two aspects of father resources, which are often combined into a single measure of socioeconomic status, revealed differential associations with father investment of time and finances.”
Not surprisingly, the researchers found that fathers who live with their children spent more time with them across several activities, and disagreements between fathers and mothers were negatively associated with fathers financially providing for their families.
Fathers’ beliefs about parenting also influenced parenting behaviours. Fathers who believed their role as financial provider to be highly important reported more financial provision, whereas fathers who reported investment in their children’s development to be highly important were more involved in caregiving. Finally, fathers who endorsed traditional gender norms participated in less caregiving and cognitive activities.
Macon noted that the results reaffirm the importance of designing parenting interventions that consider fathers’ beliefs and values, not solely their parenting knowledge and skills. The findings are published online in the Journal of Family Issues.
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