AIM: Because very little is known about the parenting of drug-abusing men, this study was designed to document ways that drug abuse contributes to compromise of responsible fathering. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS: Generalized linear models and data representing different dimensions of responsible fathering were used to clarify ways that the fathering of 106 men receiving methadone maintenance treatment differed from that of 118 men living in the same community with no history of alcohol or drug abuse. MEASUREMENT: Men who enrolled in the study completed two structured interviews and a battery of five self-report measures selected to document current and historical dimensions of responsible fathering. FINDINGS: When the opioid-dependent fathers were compared to the other fathers, there were significant differences in: (i) economic resources to support family formation; (ii) patterns of pair-bonding; (iii) patterns of procreation; and (iv) parenting behavior. When fathering of the youngest biological child was examined, the opioid-dependent fathers confirmed few differences in historical dimensions of fathering, but they reported significant differences in current dimensions reflecting: (i) constricted personal definitions of the fathering role; (ii) poorer relationships with biological mothers; (iii) less frequent residence with the child; (iv) less frequent provision of financial support; (v) less involvement in positive parenting; (vi) poorer appraisal of self as a father; and (vii) less satisfaction as a father. CONCLUSIONS: The findings highlight ways that drug abuse contributes to compromise of responsible fathering, and they raise questions about ways that the drug abuse treatment system might better address parenting as a treatment issue for men. (Author abstract)
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