American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Although it is generally assumed that fathers are absent from the lives of children being raised on AFDC, evidence from a case-control study in Worcester, Massachusetts, suggests that there is considerable father-child contact. Participants in the study included 220 sheltered homeless women and 216 low-income housed women and their dependent children. The women were interviewed about the father of each child, the physical and mental health of each child, education, support networks, and custody. The children also were asked about their social networks. Twenty percent of the fathers paid child support and maintained regular contact with their children, while 48 percent had contact with their children but did not pay support, and 27.9 percent had no contact. Fathers were identified in social networks by 56 percent of preschool children and 41 percent of school-age children. Multivariate modeling indicated that contact with fathers had a modest beneficial effect on children's behavior. Based on these study findings, negative traits of fathers (e.g., substance abuse, physical violence) appear to be associated with increased child behavior problems. 44 references and 5 tables. (Author abstract modified)
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