Fathers' Care: A Review of the Literature.

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Davis, James Earl.
Perkins, William Eric.
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This report provides a review of the literature on fatherhood and factors that impact father involvement. It begins by examining the literature on father care activities and describing some of the variations in care that are linked to family and child characteristics. This research also includes studies centering on factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of fathers being involved in the care of their children. The review then focuses on fathers' status in families with attention given to four predominate father-child arrangements: married or cohabiting fathers in the same household with their children, separated or divorced fathers living apart from their children, single fathers who are primary childcare providers, and young unwed fathers, including adolescents who usually do not live with the mother and child. Lastly, findings are reported on the diversity of fathers' experiences as caregivers by presenting research on African American, Puerto Rican, and gay fathers. The review concludes with a commentary on critical issues and problems in interpreting the literature on fathers' care and other recommendations regarding future research and policy studies in this area. Findings from the review indicate fathers, in general, are less involved in the care of children than mothers. Most fathers participate in some level of care; however, the nature and quality of this care varies greatly. Further, fathers' demonstration of caring is often circumscribed by family and child arrangements and cultural and social expectations. The literature review indicates fathers are more involved with their biological children, older children, and sons. The literature also suggests that characteristics of mothers have an effect on the opportunity for fathers' care. Also, strained and ambiguous relationships between the mother and father, particularly for adolescent fathers, minimize father care and involvement. Numerous references.

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