The Evolution of Fathering Research in the 21st Century: Persistent Challenges, New Directions

Journal Name
Journal of Marriage and Family
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Schoppe‐Sullivan, S. & Fagan, J.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Resource Language

Since the last decade review of the fathering literature in 2000, scholars across numerous disciplines such as demography, family studies, medicine, nursing, law, psychology, social work, and sociology have continued to produce a steady stream of work on fathering and father-child relationships. This literature is reviewed selectively with a focus on key developments, persistent challenges, and critical directions for future research. Significant developments include greater availability of large and nationally representative datasets to study fathers; expansion and evaluation of U.S. federal policy regarding fathers; thoughtful consideration of conceptualization and measurement of fathers' parenting; growth in research on coparenting, maternal gatekeeping, and fathering; increased attention to issues of diversity in fathering; and awareness of the effects of fathering on men's development. Persistent challenges and critical new directions in fathering research include full and routine inclusion of fathers in research on parenting, improved assessment and appropriate data analysis, adherence to evidence‐based portrayals of fathers' roles in children's development, generation and use of scientific evidence to guide policy‐making, and sustained attention to diversity and fatherhood. These should be priority areas of focus as fathering research proceeds into the next decades of the 21st century.

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