The twentieth century has been characterized by four important social trends that have fundamentally changed the social cultural context in which children develop: women's increased labor force participation, increased absence of nonresidential fathers in the lives of their children, increased involvement of fathers in intact families, and increased cultural diversity in the U.S.. In this essay, we discuss how these trends are changing the nature of father involvement and family life, and in turn affecting children's and fathers' developmental trajectories. We end with an eye toward the twenty-first century by examining how the children of today will construct their expectations about the roles of fathers and mothers as they become the parents of tomorrow. This life-span approach to fatherhood considers the broader sociohistorical context in which fatherhood develops, and emphasizes the urgent need to consider mothers, fathers, and family structure in future research as we seek to understand and model the effects of parenting on children's development. (Author abstract).
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