This concluding chapter synthesizes the various perspectives of fatherhood presented by the different disciplines represented in the book. It highlights the common issues that have been addressed in all social science research about fathers, including the definition of fathers and father involvement, the impact of father involvement on child development, the contributors to father involvement, and cultural factors that influence fathering behavior. Many studies include social fathers, as well as biological fathers, in their samples to ensure that analyses reflect the key man in a child's life. However, definitions of father involvement depend on the focus of the discipline and the specific research project. Some researchers define father involvement in terms of financial support, while others consider the quality of father-child relationships and emotional care. Differences also exist in the identification of determinants of father involvement and the mechanisms by which certain factors affect child outcomes. Integration of these perspectives will help to create a multidimensional view of fatherhood and lead to a better understanding of the factors that influence father involvement. Collaboration across disciplines will also help researchers to think beyond their specific approach to develop more comprehensive models of fatherhood. Challenges to future research include balancing individual characteristics with group trends, adjusting methods to measure new family structures, collecting data from a variety of sources, and resolving differences in methodologies. 14 references.
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