Father Involvement in English-Speaking Caribbean Families.

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Roopnarine, J. L.
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English speaking Caribbean men's relationships with their children are affected by a variety of factors that distinguish them from fathers in other countries, such as the complexity of mating and marital unions, cultural values regarding manhood and fatherhood, parenting knowledge, economics, and migration patterns. In low-income Caribbean families, mating and marital unions occur with different levels of commitment, from visiting or friending relationships, in which men and women meet for sexual and social contact, to common-law relationships, marital unions, and single parents. Relationships are more stable among Caribbean families with greater economic resources. However, Caribbean culture continues to endorse the concept of male dominance and many men father children outside of a marital relationship. The vast majority of men believe that the primary role of the father is to provide financial support for the family, despite the large proportion of women in the workforce. This cultural value is retained by Caribbean immigrants in the United States. Fatherhood also signifies maturity and sexuality for Caribbean men. Barriers to father-child involvement include child-shifting, the practice of placing children with relatives or friends; lack of awareness of child development; unemployment; and migration within the Caribbean and to other countries. Research about family relationships in the Caribbean have found that fathers are slightly less involved with their children than men living in industrialized countries. However, concerns have been raised about the prevalence of father absence and its impact on children. The lack of a father in the home has been associated with developmental delays, physical abuse, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, conduct disorder, and passive-dependency characteristics. These outcomes may be mediated by economic resources, improved parenting skills, and support from extended family members and friends. Numerous references.

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