Family Processes, Intergenerational Learning and Involved Fathering
As part of a larger NICHD-funded P01 focused on the “Transition to Fatherhood” (Elizabeth Peters, Cornell University P.I. of the P01), MPRC associates Sandra Hofferth, Frances Goldscheider, Kevin Roy, and Jaslean LaTaillade (Family Science) and Natasha Cabrera (Human Development) are collaborating on a component project that investigates intergenerational mechanisms through which “responsible fathering” may be transmitted. Five papers have been submitted to journals for review, one was recently presented at a professional meeting, and two are in preparation. Five key findings have been articulated so far :
- Parental relationship quality matters more than paternal residence to adolescent relationships with fathers. Evidence: Paternal residence is not a significant factor influencing father involvement when relationship quality of the biological parents is controlled. Sample: NLSY children 10-14 of residential and nonresidential fathers.
- Receiving child support is positively associated with better overall child health after divorce, and providing other parental financial assistance (e.g., medical insurance, clothing, other expenses) is linked to reduced behavior problems. Evidence: Comparison of health and behavior of children of nonresidential fathers who provide or do not provide child support and other financial support regularly.
- Men growing up with a single parent or in an unstable family experience an early transition to fatherhood, particularly to nonresidential fatherhood. These early transitions are explained by economic deprivation, more negative parenting style, and delinquent adolescent behaviors. Evidence: Comparison of young adults 14-26, children of original mother cohort in the NLSY79 by family structure of origin.
- The effects of family structure on men’s parental roles have attenuated across cohorts. Evidence: comparison of effects across the NLSY79 youth and the NLSY79 young adult samples of young men 20-26 in 1985 (NLSY79 original cohort) and in 2004 (young adult sample).
- Compared to young men whose fathers were not involved, young men whose fathers were involved when they were young exhibit positive parenting some 25 years later when they become fathers. Evidence: examination of young adult (17-26) resident fathering by the fathering of their own dad, with controls for other variables.