Session Recap: Father Involvement and Co-parenting from Pregnancy to Childhood
November 11, 2014 09:00 AM
By Chiho Song, University of Washington
Paternal Incarceration and Child outcomes: Does Food Insecurity Play a Role?by Christian King, Georgia State University
Prenatal Father Involvement and Maternal Perinatal Health Outcomes: Looking Beyond the Birth Certificateby Cynthia Osborne and Robert Brill, University of Texas at Austin
Fathers’ Coparenting and Children’s Behavior After Unmarried Parents Partby Julia S. Goldberg and Marcia Carlson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Nonresident Father Involvement in Immigrant Familiesby Lenna Nepomnyaschy and Louis Donnelly, Rutgers University
Discussant: Ronald B. Mincy, Columbia University
King examined the role of food insecurity as a mediator for the relation between paternal incarceration and child behavior problems. To this aim, the study defined child externalizing/internalizing behaviors as dependent variables with controlling for maternal depression that may act as a confounder. Data used was the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). King used as a sample unmarried mothers who may be exposed to the high risk of poverty or separation.
The results showed that the effect of food insecurity on child health outcomes, which accounts for 6% (4%) of the effect of child internalizing (externalizing) behavior. This implies that policymakers should consider the important role of food stamps in alleviating food insecurity for better child outcomes. Mincy pointed out that testing whether or not food insecurity has a mediator role in the relation between paternal incarceration and child behavior problems by using a specification test such as Hausman test should be considered.
The purpose of Osborne and Brill’s study was to investigate the role of prenatal father involvement on maternal and child health outcomes. The authors’ basic concern was that previous research has failed to capture the dynamic nature of prenatal experience of parents because they has used crude measure of father’s commitment to the mother during pregnancy. To overcome this limit, this study attempted to utilize various indicators of prenatal indicators based on the Paternity Establishment Study (PES) that is longitudinally collected and representative of Texas mothers. Especially, to provide observable events during the prenatal period, two variables (i.e. fathers’ attendance at the 20-week ultrasound and their attendance at the birth of their spouses) are constructed. They used logistic regression models with regressing mothers’ pregnancy complications on commitment prior to pregnancy, prenatal relationship quality, prenatal father involvement, and intervention points.
One of their interesting findings is that the effect of ‘Father not at birth’ on the likelihood of pregnancy complication is positively significant. This implies that alternative policies for encouraging fathers’ presence during the pregnancy or the birth should be considered by policymakers. One suggestion Mincy had was for better analysis with more in-depth technique such as latent class analysis to figure out how variables play a role in predicting the outcome.
Goldberg shared the purpose of her study to examine whether co-parenting among couples who break up after a non-marital birth affect their children’s behavior problems, especially focusing on nonresident fathers’ co-parenting. For this purpose, the authors constructed the analytic sample (2,230 households) based on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). The main measures are children’s behavior problems (externalizing/internalizing), co-parenting, engagement in father-child activities, and monetary contributions. Fixed and random effect models are used to control for observed and unobservable characteristics of mothers, fathers, and children.
In addition, time-variant father-child engagement and child support payments were added to the models for considering the mediation of these factors on the relation between co-parenting and children’s behavior problems. The results indicated that nonresident fathers’ co-parenting is a key factor to predict children’s externalizing/internalizing problems. It implies that new policy designs to help nonresident fathers deal with their circumstances of childbearing after divorce/separation should be devised by policymakers.
Nepomnyaschy and Donnelly’s study examined the role of nonresident fathers on childbearing, especially in immigrant families. To fulfill this aim, the study attempted to scrutinize some domains of fathers’ involvement (e.g. participation in activities with children, co-parenting with mothers, time spent with children, and so on). They used the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and selected a sample of children who were born 1998-2000 to unmarried mothers.
The authors' main outcomes were: 1) Any contact per month, 2) Days contact (if any contact past month), and 3) Cooperative parenting (if any contact past month). The results indicated that compared to children of native-born parents, those of foreign-born parents are less likely to have seen their father recently (past year or month), implying that considering mother’s and father’s nativity and the different status of nonresident fathers between immigrant and native families is required to be considered for policymakers to design any policies to support nonresident fathers’ involvement in raising their children.