Fathering and Adolescents' Psychological Adjustment: The Role of Fathers' Involvement, Residence and Biology Status.

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Journal Volume
Child : care, health and development
Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Flouri, E.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Background: Studies on fathering and child mental health are now increasingly looking for specificity in children's psychological adjustment, indicating whether the impact of fathering is diagnostically specific or non-specific. Methods: Data from 435 fathers of secondary school-aged children in Britain were used to explore the association between resident biological fathers', non-resident biological fathers' and stepfathers' involvement and children's total difficulties, prosocial behaviour, emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity and peer problems (all measured with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) in adolescence. Results: After controlling for child-, father- and family-related factors, fathers' involvement was negatively associated with children's total difficulties and hyperactivity, was positively associated with children's prosocial behaviour, and was unrelated with children's emotional symptoms, conduct problems and peer problems. There was no non-resident biological father effect. Compared with resident biological fathers, stepfathers reported more total difficulties, conduct problems and hyperactivity in their children even after adjusting for involvement. Conclusions: Whether this reflects stepfathers' low tolerance levels or biological fathers' complacency, as sociobiologists would argue, or whether this is due to pre-existing predispositions of children in families which separate and restructure, to the effects of these multiple family changes or to the high exposure of children in restructured families to parental risk factors, is, given the data available and the study design, unclear. However, this study showed that, compared with their peers in biological father families, adolescents in stepfather families are perceived to be at higher risk of behaviour problems, and that father involvement is related to specific aspects of child adjustment. (Author abstract)

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