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Father role in child development

Father Role in Child Development

The role of father love in child development is of significant importance. Their role helps mold and shape the child as they grow both physically, mentally, and socially. Many aspects of a father affect how a child develops. Differences in involvement among unemployed and employed men are very important. The amount of time that the father is available to help raise the child affects the type of relationships that the child may have later in life and their social role (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). There are also effects of father absence on educational achievement and intellectual development among children ranging from age six to eleven. Children who have a father that plays an active role in their schoolwork and extracurricular activities are more likely to excel as an individual (Svanum & Mclaughlin, 1982). Another study was on the effects of paternal involvement on infant preferences for mothers and fathers. Results showed that paternal involvement had no effec!

t on preferences displayed by measures of attachment behavior (Lamb, Frodi A., Frodi M., &Hwang, 1983). The observed social behavior of children and parents from stepfather families was also taken into consideration as a possible effect of child development. Families represented by any kind of marital conflict implied explanations of the children’s social behavior (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, &Meadows, 1982). All of these studies showed how the role of the father either effected or did not effect the development of the child.

Father love also displays significant importance in child development. Children’s behavior is more easily predicted by father’s love than the mother’s love. Closeness between a father and his son or daughter contributed more so to the children’s happiness, amount of behavioral problems and overall psychological well-being than that of the mother and child (Rohner, 1998). Gender differences also play a role on children’s behavior. Our research showed that a single pattern of paternal love-related behavior may be associated with a certain outcome for sons and a totally different outcome for daughters. An example of this is shown when a daughter’s self esteem is best predicted by the father’s physical affection, whereas the son’s self esteem is best predicted by the father’s sustained contact (Rohner, 1998). Rohner (1998) noted that paternal love and affection was just as predictive of children’s life satisfaction and well-being as was the love of a mother. In summary, this article shows how father love is profoundly implicated in children’s psychological well-being, health, and in behavioral problems (Rohner, 1998). This demonstrates the importance of father role in child development.

Harold-Goldsmith (1989) shows the difference in involvement among unemployed and employed men with their children. The participants were 48 non-divorced families who were primarily white (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). They were families that had jobs and who also had a child in preschool or kindergarten (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). Seventeen of the fathers did not have a job and thirty-one of them worked (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). Letters were sent to families whose child enrolled in kindergarten, had records indicating that there were two parents in the home, and that the father was jobless. The families were then contacted by phone or visited at home when they were unable to be reached via phone. They were asked if they’d like to participate and if they agreed then an interview was set up (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). The participants were interviewed separately at their own home for about one hour. A questionnaire was used to guide the interview as the person conducting the interview read the questions aloud to the parents. The Paternal Involvement in Childcare Index (PICCI) was used as a scale to measure the parent scores (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). Separate scores were given to the parents based on their responses. They were placed within five categories. The scores of the five categories were added together and a total was given to each parent for father involvement. The scores of the two parents were then added together and this total was known as the Paternal Involvement in Child Care Index (PICCI) grand total score (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). "The hypothesis regarding the ability of each parent’s work status, father’s view of the flexibility of his role, and the birth order of the child to predict father involvement in the total sample was supported" (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989, p.457). We are shown that all four independent variables were of great contribution to the differences in participation of the father. Father participation was at its highest when the father had no job, the young child was close to the oldest child, the father was flexible in his role, and when the mother was working. It was also found that birth order of the target child was an important factor in father participation (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). Flexibility of the paternal role, availability of time on father’s part due to his unemployed status, the increased demand for his participation due to his wife’s employment, and the absence of other children who could take responsibility for the young child had influence on the amount of father involvement in childcare (Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). Jobless fathers place more importance on other indicators that he is fulfilling the male role. If the fathers do not feel their manliness is threatened by caring for a young child then they may actively participate in child rearing. This is done despite the fact that their wives are home and not working, and there are older brothers or sisters in the home. Investigators said that unemployed men who were more involved with childcare had relatively good psychological well-being ( Radin & Harold-Goldsmith, 1989). This leads us to think that maybe it was psychological well-being that led to the greater involvement in childcare. The fact that the fathers without jobs are more involved with their children could be an asset in the child’s development despite the tragic reason for the paternal participation. This article was strong in the fact that the scale (PICCI) they used to rate the parents’ scores was highly recognized for its reliability and validity. It had been used for many years and found to be very helpful and supportive of past studies. I feel that the children of jobless fathers should have been interviewed as well. This would have given the researchers another view of the father’s participation in caring for their child. In this study they focused only on the parents view.

Svanum, Bringle, & Mclauglin noted that there were enormous effects of father absence on educational achievement and intellectual development of children ranging from age six to eleven. The participants were a nationally representative sample of 5,493 children whose father was present and 616 children whose father was absent (Svanum, Bringle, &Mclaughlin, 1982). Household questionnaires were the primary source of demographic characteristics of household members, family income, education, and marital status of parents. Thorough physical, audiometrical, visual, and dental examinations were also conducted to use as data. Psychological tests, including the WISC and WRAT, were also used together with other tests (Svanum, Bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). It was found that father-absent and father present children did not differ on age and sex (Svanum, Bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). In both black and white samples, sex was found to be equally distributed between the father-present and father-absent conditions. The average age for both father-absent and father-present black children was 8.4 years (Svanum, Bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). For white children the average age was 8.6 years for father-absent children and 8.5 years for father-present children (Svanum, Bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). The socioeconomic status (SES) of the child’s family showed strong associations with intellectual and academic performance (Svanum, Bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). For white and black children, significant detrimental effects associated with father absence were completely accounted for by differences in SES (Svanum, Bringle, &Mclaughlin, 1982). White children showed a significant increase on WISC vocabulary. Father-absent black children also did significantly better on the index of intellectual development and the WISC block design (Svanum, Bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). Decrements in intellectual and achievement test scores were found to be associated with father-absent white children. Decrements on measures of achievement were associated with black children (Svanum, Bringle, &Mclaughlin, 1982). Differences in mean were smaller in blacks than those obtained for white children (Svanum, bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). Main effects for father absence by SES was a major factor in this study. SES can often largely account for differences that can be attributed to father absence. However, the role that SES assumes in the underlying processes of father absence and cognitive development is unclear at this stage of research (Svanum, bringle, & Mclaughlin, 1982). Father absence is inconsistently and weakly related to cognitive development in children. This article was beneficial in my opinion because it studied not only internal factors that could affect the child’s development on father-absent and father-present children but also external factors. The socioeconomic status was used to show effects of the social environment and proved to have much effect on the father absent child. The research relied too heavily on the crude categorization of father presence and father absence. This article stated that future research would attempt to measure directly the implicit underlying processes and would in turn be more beneficial.

Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang (1983) studied the effects of paternal involvement on infant preferences for mothers and fathers. The participants were 45 Swedish infants who were observed in their own home, interacting with their mothers and fathers, from age eight to sixteen months old (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). Fifteen of the fathers had spent at least one month as the child’s primary caretaker (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). The families were observed at home during a time that was convenient to the parents. Both parents had to be present so the observations usually took place in the evenings. The parents were asked to behave as naturally as possible. They were able to leave the room at any time, but were encouraged to stay in the same room as the child as much as possible (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). Two investigators performed each visit. One observer recorded the social interactions using a keyboard device that aut!

omatically encoded the time of each entry. The other investigator, the visitor, interacted with the parents and infant to help make them feel comfortable about being observed (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). The study showed that the infants revealed a preference for mothers in the display of attachment behaviors (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). The study also revealed no effect of increase paternal involvement on the patterns of preference (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). The infants revealed no effects of increased paternal involvement on sex differences (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). The playfulness of fathers helps make them effectively salient to their infants, and this facilitates the formation of infant-father attachments even though infants spend substantially less time with their fathers than with their mothers (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). The unexpected absence of effects attributable to degree of paternal involvement in care taking is also consistent with the arguments stating that infants did not behave differently toward either parent depending on the degree of paternal involvement in care taking (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). Analyses revealed that degree of paternal involvement had no effect on preferences displayed on measures of attachment and behaviors affiliated with the attachment (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). They believe this evidence came about because Swedish fathers are not distinguished by involvement in play so are less effectively salient to their infants (lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983). I liked the use of the two investigators during the observation. Both investigators had very important jobs, and I believe they played a crucial role in finding the results of this study. The use of observance during a natural setting was also beneficial. On the other hand I think that more investigation and observance should have been done on American infants instead of Swedish infants. A broader sample should have been used. The article stated that Swedish fathers were not distinguished by an involvement on infant preferences for mothers and fathers (Lamb, Frodi M., Frodi A., & Hwang, 1983).

Observations of social behavior among children and parents in stepfather families were also studied. Thirty-six families were studied (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). There were twelve children whose biological mothers were divorced but had not remarried, and twelve children from intact, father present families (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). Half of the six to eleven year old children were boys and half were girls (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). The families were equal on socioeconomic status and family size (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). Divorced and stepfather families were matched by age at onset of divorce (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). Parents were observed interacting with their child in a laboratory situation. The data consisted of two videotaped ten-minute sessions (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). Each parent and child pair was asked to plan a weekend activity!

together and then they were asked to discuss the main problems of the family (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). They were always asked in that order because the first question provoked less anxiety. Parent and child behaviors were rated separately on nine point scales at the end of each of the two, ten minutes sessions (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). The child categories were chosen to represent several personality variables that have been of interest to researchers who study children growing up in many different family structures. Warmth, independence, and sociability were all observed (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). The study concluded that social behavior of children is not necessarily less competent in stepfather families than in intact families. They also found that social behavior of children in divorced families is not necessarily less competent than that of children in father present intact families (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). There were few differences found in the behavior of boys in divorced and stepfather families and in the behavior of girls in stepfather divorced families. There was indication of boys being more satisfied with the stepfather family arrangement than girls. This was shown in the warmth from boys toward their stepfathers (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). Data suggest that factors such as parenting behavior, sex of child, and marital conflict, in any type of family structure are implicated in explanations of children’s social behavior (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). There was no evidence that children from divorced families functioned less competently than those from intact families (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). Comparisons of children with their intact father and their stepfather produced no significant differences (Santrock, Warshak, Lindbergh, & Meadows, 1982). I was glad to see that the sample included both families with a stepfather and families whose mother did not remarry. Those two categories along with the intact, father-present families make up broad sample where comparisons can easily be made. Choosing families of equal socioeconomic status was also crucial in this study so that those factors would be ruled out on competency behavior. I disagree with the procedure taking place in a laboratory setting. I feel that better results would have shown up when the family was being observed in a natural setting. The lab setting may have distorted how the participants ordinarily behave.

I would address this issue by gathering a representative sample of fathers from around the world and observe their behavior with their child during a natural setting, along with the use of questionnaires and interviews. I feel sure that my results would imply that the father plays an important role in the development of the child, both physically and mentally. The role of the father would also effect the child’s cognitive development and well-being.

The presence or absence of the father, degree of paternal involvement, and family structure has many effects on the developing child. Throughout most of the articles studied, evidence revealed that the presence of the father played a crucial role in the development of children and that when more time was spent with the child then positive aspects were revealed. The father-present child had a more presentable aura about themselves, grew up to be studious and well rounded intellectuals, and had great success in life as a whole.


Radin, N., Harold-goldsmith, R. (1989). The involvement of selected unemployed and employed men with their children. Child Development, 60, 454-459.

Rohner, R.P. (1998). Father love and child development: History and current evidence. American Psychological Society, 157-161.

Santrock, J., Warshak, R., Lindbergh, C., and Meadows, L. (1982). Children’s and parent’s observed social behavior in stepfather families. Child Development, 53, 472-480.

Svanum, S., Bringle, R., and Mclaughlin, J. (1982). Father absence and cognitive performance in a large sample of six-to eleven-year old children. Child Development, 53, 136-143.

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