Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Background: Fathers have unique influences on children's development, and particularly in the development of social skills. Although father-child relationship influences on children's social competence have received increased attention in general, research on fathering in families of children with developmental delays (DD) is scant. This study examined the pathway of influence among paternal intrusive behaviour, child social skills and child self-regulatory ability, testing a model whereby child regulatory behaviour mediates relations between fathering and child social skills. Methods: Participants were 97 families of children with early identified DD enrolled in an extensive longitudinal study. Father and mother child-directed intrusiveness was coded live in naturalistic home observations at child age 4.5, child behaviour dysregulation was coded from a video-taped laboratory problem-solving task at child age 5, and child social skills were measured using independent teacher reports at child age 6. Analyses tested for mediation of the relationship between fathers' intrusiveness and child social skills by child behaviour dysregulation. Results: Fathers' intrusiveness, controlling for mothers' intrusiveness and child behaviour problems, was related to later child decreased social skills and this relationship was mediated by child behaviour dysregulation. Conclusions: Intrusive fathering appears to carry unique risk for the development of social skills in children with DD. Findings are discussed as they related to theories of fatherhood and parenting in children with DD, as well as implications for intervention and future research. (Author abstract)
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