Research And Good Fathering
Since the 1990s, a new body of research on father-hood has emerged that goes beyond the simple dichotomy of presence versus absence to a deeper understanding of the multidimensional levels of parental involvement that make a difference in children's development. There is enough evidence to suggest that positive and nurturing parental involvement can make an important contribution to the healthy development of children. In addition to providing economic resources for their children, positively involved fathers can make a difference in their children's lives by providing options, being a good role model, and helping them to negotiate complex social interactions. Children who grow up with involved, caring fathers tend to be psychologically better adjusted, engage in less risky behavior, and have healthy relationships with others.
Given that almost a quarter of American children live without a father and that most of these children live in poverty, policymakers and others have placed fathers, especially low-income fathers, on the national spotlight. There is, however, little research on how low-income men interact with their children, how parental involvement alters their own developmental trajectories, and what barriers they need to overcome to become positive influences in their children's lives. This type of information will be crucial for researchers who study antecedents of father involvement and impacts on children, but also for policymakers and educators who promote positive father involvement.
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Natasha J. Cabrera