Inside the Black Box of Interactions Between Programs and Participants: Re-conceptualizing Subgroups for Fatherhood Program Evaluation. C. Values and Lifestyles


How a father spends his time can shape his behavior as a father. Studies reviewed included variables pertaining to family routines and activities, activities with the child, religious and civic involvement and activities, and characteristics of the father's job.

Twenty-two percent of reviewed studies (14 of 64) examined predictors reflecting values and lifestyle (see Table VI.1).

·      Nine studies examined parenting outcomes, and six found significant associations.

·      Two examined partner relationship outcomes, and one found a significant association.

·      Two examined child support, with one study finding a significant association.

·      One examined both employment and found a significant association.

·      Two studies examined well-being outcomes, with one study finding a significant association.

Appendix Table E.3 provides a list of the variables examined in each study and indicates whether a statistically significant relationship was found with the fatherhood outcomes examined. Findings are summarized below.

1. Predictors of Parenting Outcomes

Family activities. In a sample of 167 low- to moderate-income two-parent Mexican American families, Coltrane et al. (2004) found that fathers who reported that their families engaged in family rituals (such as eating meals together and participating in weekend activities together) with more frequency also reported more frequent interactions with their children at other times and higher levels of parental monitoring, controlling for child and family demographic characteristics and fathers' perception of gender roles.

Activities with child. Using latent growth curve models, Holmes (2010) found that teen fathers' participation in prenatal behaviors such as going to the doctor with the child's mother and birth behaviors such as being present at the birth and visiting the child in the hospital were positively associated with fathers' involvement when the child was 14-, 24-, and 36-months controlling for fathers' age, residence after birth, employment, school status, child's gender, parents' race, mothers' age, and coparental relationship.

Religious and civic activities. Only one study used multivariate and longitudinal analysis to examine religious activities as a predictor. Using data on 72 predominantly white fathers participating in Early Head Start (EHS), Roggman et al. (2002) did not find a significant association between the frequency of participating in religious activities and fathers' subsequent involvement with their infant children while in Early Head Start, controlling for education, depression, relationship anxiety, and social support. Using multivariate analysis, Wilcox et al. (2001) studied whether religious involvement and civic participation were related to fathers' involvement with their school-aged children. The frequency of participation in church organizations and civic organizations (such as sports, professional, service, or cultural groups) was associated with higher levels of father involvement in one-on-one activities with the child, eating dinner with the child, and participating in such youth activities as the boy scouts or youth sports teams, controlling for child age and father age, education, race/ethnicity, marital status, and income.

Job characteristics. Six multivariate studies explored whether paternal job characteristics relate to fathers' parenting; three of the six found significant associations. For example, Goodman and colleagues (2008) analyzed data from 446 low-income rural families and found that the type of work that fathers engaged in was related to their parenting, as measured through interviews and videotaped interactions with their infant children. However, results varied, depending on degree of rural isolation and paternal education levels. Specifically, fathers in occupations characterized by low levels of occupational self-direction demonstrated lower levels of parenting engagement if they were living in a more isolated area (but not if they lived in less rural areas). Moreover, fathers whose jobs involved caregiving and dealing with angry or physically aggressive individuals were found to have lower parental engagement if they had lower levels of education. In contrast, fathers with higher education levels in these types of jobs demonstrated higher levels of engagement with their infants. Three multivariate studies did not find a significant association. For example, in a sample of 115 low-income Mexican American families, Formoso et al. (2007) tested whether fathers' work hours was related to the quality of their relationship with their 11- to 14-year-old children. They did not find a statistically significant association after controlling for child and family demographics and the quality of the relationship between the parents.

2. Predictors of Partner Relationship Outcomes

Religious and civic activities. Caputo (2006) analyzed data on 600 families from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study. The author found that fathers who reported higher levels of religious activity before their child's birth were more likely to be married to their children's mothers one year after their child was born, controlling for demographic characteristics, pre-birth relationship status, and concurrent quality of relationship. Religious affiliation was also examined as a predictor but was not found to be statistically significant.

3. Predictors of Employment Outcomes

Activities with child. Knoester et al. (2007) examined whether father's change in frequency of engagement with child from the time of the child's birth to one year post-birth was related to hours of paid labor. Results indicated that increased engagement with their children from birth to age 1 predicted reductions in hours of paid labor one year after birth. Contrary to the authors' hypothesis, they surmised that the reduction in hours of paid labor may be due to time constraints experienced by the fathers after the birth of their child.

4. Predictors of Child Support Outcomes

Activities with child. In two studies, Castillo (2009, 2010) used data on nonresidential fathers from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study to examine whether fathers' frequency of activities (such as playing, reading, and showing affection) with their preschool children was related to child support outcomes. The frequency of activities was not found to be related to the probability of having a currently established child support order nor to the current establishment of paternity, controlling for race/ethnicity, education, employment, income, age, quality of relationship with the child's mother, and involvement with social networks.

5. Predictors of Father Well-Being Outcomes

Activities with child. Knoester et al. (2007) analyzed data on 2,494 new fathers from the Fragile Families study to examine whether father engagement at birth (that is, whether he was present at the birth, whether he held the baby) and one year after birth (that is, how often he played games or read stories to the child) predicted substance use one year after the birth. They found that fathers who were more engaged at the time of their child's birth had reduced substance use one year later. In addition, change in engagement was also a significant predictor: Fathers whose engagement increased from birth to age 1, reported reductions in substance use and improvements in subjective health.

Job characteristics. Whitbeck and colleagues (1997) conducted multivariate, longitudinal analysis to investigate whether fathers' occupational complexity was related to levels of emotional distress. They did not find a statistically significant relationship.

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