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Cabrera on low-income fathers' engagement with their children

Fathers' involvement promotes self-regulatory behaviors and healthy relationships

A new article, recently published on the Institute for Family Studies blog by Faculty Associate Natasha Cabrera and her colleague Lisa Gennetian, examines the ways in which low-income fathers can engage in loving relationships with their children. Based on Dr. Cabrera’s research, it has been found that a father that spends time with their children can make a difference in children’s vocabulary development and self-regulatory behaviors. Additionally, fathers attuned to their children respond sensitively in “serve and return” interactions that promote healthy and nurturing relationships that foster secure attachment, sense of security and love across the lifespan. Sadly, she finds that “many low-income men in the U.S. work in jobs that pay at or near the minimum wage. This not only affects their marriage prospects but reduces the total earnings that fathers make. Working long and unpredictable hours and on weekends takes low-income fathers out of the home for the majority of the day, leaving them little time for their families and children.”

However, there are mechanisms to support low-income fathers’ involvement in their child’s development. One way is to change the mindset that low-income fathers cannot be good dads and that their main role is to supply a paycheck. Second, fathers who do not live daily with their children need support to stay connected with them more than just the allowed visitation time. Lastly, there is a need to provide programmatic support for fathers, as well as mother, to improve parenting practices and include them in interventions, the authors find.

See the complete Institute for Family Studies article

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