Developmental consequences of father involvement for men and their children
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Developmental Consequences of Father Involvement for Men and Their Children . Rob Palkovitz, Ph.D. Human Development and Family Studies University of Delaware. Clear understandings. Good fathering is good for children’s wellbeing and development Connection/attachment/bond /warmth

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Developmental consequences of father involvement for men and their children

Developmental Consequences of Father Involvement for Men and Their Children

Rob Palkovitz, Ph.D.

Human Development and Family Studies

University of Delaware


Clear understandings

Clear understandings

  • Good fathering is good for children’s wellbeing and development

  • Connection/attachment/bond /warmth

    • associated with children’s self-worth, self-confidence, and emotional wellbeing (fewer internalizing problems)

  • Positive involvement in care

    • associated with developmental competencies in cognitive and social realms, better outcomes in regard to education, substance use, delayed sexual activity and outcomes, behavioral problems (fewer externalizing problems)

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Clear understandings1

Clear Understandings

  • Fathering changes men’s development as well

    • Not just how spend time and money

    • True developmental change

      • Relatively permanent

      • Functionally significant

      • Qualitatively different

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


How do we know

How do we know?

  • No experimental data to assure causality

  • Own experience and reflections

  • Observations of friends & acquaintances

  • Qualitative research studies

  • Quantitative data sets

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Non experimental ways to establish causality

Non-experimental ways to establish causality

  • Temporal precedence

    • Longitudinal confirmations

      • Risk and resilience in Fragile Families Fathers

  • Covariation of cause and effect

    • Different patterns of involvement associated with different patterns of men’s adult development

  • No other plausible explanations

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


There are many other plausible explanations

There are many other plausible explanations

  • Fathering embedded in complex array of life factors

    • Maturity/Settling down (age norms)

    • Spouse/partner effects

    • Educational attainment

    • Religious conversion

    • Other roles and responsibilities

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


From men s perspectives qualitative work with diverse dads

From Men’s Perspectives:Qualitative work with diverse dads

  • Independent of education, age, SES, race, marital status or any other factor, each participant saw fatherhood as being a MAJOR shaper of their development

  • The majority of men saw fathering as being the PRIMARY shaper of their lives

  • Every man stated that though costs and benefits, that benefits far outweigh the costs

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Developmentally speaking

Developmentally speaking...

  • Greater differentiation of roles and abilities

  • Greater integration of roles and abilities

  • Differentiation + Integration = Development

  • Work on things that were “good enough” for self/partner, but not good enough for their kids (developmental “pull”)

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


The bottom line cost benefits analyses

The Bottom Line:Cost/Benefits Analyses

  • It’s active engagement in the role that matters

  • Engaged fathering creates “better people”

  • Wouldn’t have made changes without engagement in fathering roles

  • Investments/commitments to kids, self, spouse/partner & community benefit everyone

  • Good fathering is good for everyone

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Costs investments may include

Costs (investments?) may include:

  • Decreased couple-centered time

  • Deferred education

  • Sacrifice

  • Derailed dreams

  • Changes in life course, plans, goals

  • Loss of free time, autonomy

  • Different allocation of resources- time, money, energy, worries

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Developmental consequences of father involvement for men and their children

Not all fathers will reap the same pattern or degree of developmental benefit from involved fathering

Review of some perceived developmental differences in fathers:

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Common benefits or gains

Common Benefits or “gains”

  • Satisfaction of watching children grow, develop and accomplish things (pride)

  • Getting love in return- “new best friend”

  • Kids contribute to fathers’ personal growth

    • sense that a better person

  • Passing on a family name, line, heritage

  • Fun

  • Kids give life meaning

    • A reason to grind at the grindstone

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Further perceived gains

Further Perceived Gains

  • Continued learning

  • Emotional regulation & expression

  • Community involvement

  • Enhanced social networks (but trade-offs)

    • Broader

    • Shallower

    • Briefer

  • More conscious of health

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Perceived gains

Perceived gains

  • More understanding of own parents

  • Greater engagement with siblings

  • More connection to own childhood

  • Values clarification regarding morals and faith

  • Less selfish/more giving

  • Greater sense of responsibility and maturity (rising to occasion)

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Patterns of perceived development across bio psycho social spiritual domains

Patterns of perceived development across bio-psycho-social-spiritual domains:

  • Self

    • Cognitions

    • Emotions

    • Faith, Morals, Values

    • Health

  • Social

    • Marriage/partner

    • Extended family

    • Friendships

    • Community involvement

  • Work

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Processes of change

Processes of change

  • Dynamic relationship embedded in complex and changing array of other changing relationships

  • Intergenerational relationships characterized by discrepant resources, roles, responsibilities

  • Different patterns of mutual benefit than peer relationships

  • Effective ways to key on father involvement: Lessons from prenatal teratology…

    • Timing

    • Dose

    • Duration

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Potential developmental outcomes of involved fathering

Potential Developmental Outcomes of Involved Fathering

  • Depend on patterns and levels of involvement (timing, dose and durations)

  • Considerable variation both within and across dads (diversity of fathering and reaction ranges)

  • Many different patterns possible (equifinality, multifinality, reaction ranges and systems thinking)

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Timing effects

Timing effects

  • Well represented in life course research

  • Different patterns of developmental outcomes for men making transition to fatherhood at different times

  • Both quantitative and qualitative results to document

  • On-time

  • Off-time

    • Early

    • Late

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Dose effects

Dose effects

  • Father involvement literature

    • Levels of involvement

    • Builds case for positive father involvement having child outcome effects

    • Growing evidence that FI influences fathers’ development

  • Involvement is distributed across children

    • Total involvement profiles may predict dose effects

    • Developmental implications of behavioral, affective and emotional components of involvement

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Many possible relationships data

Many possible relationships:Data?

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Other possible relationships

Other possible relationships

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


More possibilities

More possibilities

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


The likely reality

The likely reality

  • Different realms, different outcome effects

  • Quantification not currently available at this level of specificity

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Duration effects

Duration effects

  • Interact with timing and dose

    • Time invested in different involvement patterns

    • Cumulative fathering (by next year over 100 years of fathering experience!)

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Non exhaustive and non exclusive process components

Non-exhaustive and non-exclusive process components

  • Generativity

  • Identity

  • The Pie- centrality

  • Life meaning

  • Attachment

  • Goodness of fit

  • Roles

  • Generational stake

  • Enjoyment

    • Love

    • Fun

    • Pride

  • Intergenerational synchrony

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Manifestations at the margins

Manifestations at the margins

  • Men in challenging circumstances more involved than previously acknowledged

  • Importance of father identity in effecting stability and positive change

  • Efforts invested

  • Loss experienced or averted

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Things that always matter

Things that ALWAYS matter

  • Affective climate: Connection. Attachment. Trust. Warmth. Being there. Security. Protection. Provision (broadly defined). Involvement.

  • Behavioral style: Actively engaged. Maintaining safety. Moderate control. Developmentally facilitative interactions. Modeling. Relational style. Answering questions. Monitoring.

  • Relational synchrony: Developmentally appropriate and sensitive. Scaffolding. Tuned in to signals. Teaching. Capitalizing on emerging interests and abilities.

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Developmental consequences of father involvement for men and their children

  • As fathers actively engage in improving the quality of these three components, they develop competencies that they didn’t have before

  • The new capabilities are transferrable to other contexts

    • Relationships

    • Work

      (multitasking VP candidates!)

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Implications for research

Implications for research

  • More precise quantitative data needed, especially longitudinal data linking men’s patterns of development with valid measures of changes in their adult development

  • Most of emphasis in existing data sets on child outcomes

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Toward a balanced approach applied take home message

Toward a balanced approach:Applied take-home message

  • Development is a very long and very complicated story consisting of many interacting factors

  • Deterministic vs. probabilistic thinking

  • Father-child relationships ONE (very important) factor in a diverse and complex array of interacting factors.

  • If we can facilitate positive father involvement it will most likely have a positive effect for children, families and communities… and for fathers themselves

  • Early family based interventions matter

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Thank you for your commitment to father involvement research and family based practice

Thank YOU for your commitment to father involvement research and family-based practice!

  • Keep up the good work!

  • Questions and comments?

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Developmental consequences of father involvement for men and their children

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Developmental reality check

Developmental reality check

  • If all of this variability is “real” and “expected” in the “HARD SCIENCES” (prenatal teratology) then why do we expect a particular set of developmental outcomes from a specific pattern of father involvement?

  • Father involvement effects would be

    • timing

    • dose and

    • duration dependent as well-

    • and embedded in a complex array of other contexts of development.

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Equifinality or equipotential as a general principle

Equifinality (or Equipotential) as a GENERAL PRINCIPLE

  • EQUIFINALITY- different environmental conditions can lead to the same developmental end state

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Equifinality

Equifinality

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Multifinality multipotentiality as a general principle

Multifinality (Multipotentiality) as a GENERAL PRINCIPLE:

  • MULTIFINALITY: same set of conditions can lead to different developmental outcomes

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Multifinality

Multifinality

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Reaction ranges

Reaction ranges

  • There is an interaction of the timing, dose, and duration of the exposure, and different fathers have different genetic predispositions towards risk and resilience, and to effects of involved fathering… that is to say, different reaction ranges

  • One source of individual differences in development.

  • Essentially, some fathers are profoundly affected by their involvement with their children, while others are less so

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


Developmental consequences of father involvement for men and their children

Father Involvement Research 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community


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