Journal of Child and Family Studies
High-quality father involvement in childrearing is associated with positive child outcomes. Yet, variability between fathers in parenting quality remains. The present study examined associations between maternal gatekeeping and fathers’ observed parenting quality in 182 dual-earner families who transitioned to parenthood in 2008–2009. Maternal gatekeeping, or beliefs and behaviors that may serve to discourage (gate close) or encourage (gate open) father involvement in childrearing, was measured using fathers’ reports at 3- and 9-months postpartum. Fathers’ parenting quality was assessed during a brief observational task at 3- and 9-months postpartum. A cross-lagged structural equation model, which included repeated measures of maternal gate closing, gate opening, and fathers’ parenting quality (i.e., sensitivity, detachment, and positive regard) at 3- and 9-months postpartum, revealed associations between maternal gatekeeping and fathers’ parenting quality. In particular, fathers who experienced greater gate closing at 3-months postpartum showed greater relative declines in parenting quality at 9-months postpartum. Of note, maternal gate opening at 3-months postpartum was not associated with fathers’ parenting quality at 9-months postpartum. Additionally, paths from fathers’ parenting quality at 3-months postpartum to maternal gatekeeping at 9-months postpartum were not significant. This is the first study to examine longitudinal associations between maternal gatekeeping and fathers’ parenting quality. (Author abstract)
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