Predicting Early Fatherhood and Whether Young Fathers Live with Their Children: Prospective Findings and Policy Reconsiderations.

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Year Published
Author (Individual)
Jaffee, Sara R.
Caspi, Avshalom.
Moffitt, Terrie E.
Taylor, Alan.
Dickson, Nigel.
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Resource Format
This prospective study of a birth cohort was conducted to identify the factors that predict the age at which young men make the transition to fatherhood and whether those characteristics predict how long young men live with their children. The research also examined the link between individual differences in the amount of time fathers spend living with their children and fathers' psychosocial characteristics in young adulthood. Data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in New Zealand were analyzed for the project. Findings revealed that by age 26, 19 percent of the 499 study participants had become fathers. Individual and family-of-origin characteristics were assessed from birth until age 15, and contemporaneous characteristics were assessed at age 26. Young men who experienced a stressful rearing environment and a history of conduct problems were more likely to become fathers at an early age and to spend less time living with their children. Of those who experienced none of the risk factors, fewer than 10 percent had become fathers by age 26, versus more than 60 percent of those who experienced five risk factors. Fathers who lived apart from their children reported the most social and psychological difficulties in young adulthood. These findings point to individual and family-of-origin characteristics that might be targeted to delay fatherhood and increase levels of paternal involvement. However, given their troubled life histories and poor social-psychological adjustment in young adulthood, some absent fathers might have difficulties providing positive parenting and partnering unless policy initiatives to promote intact families also support young men. (Author abstract modified) 60 references, 8 figures, 3 tables.

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