Involving Dads: Parental Bargaining and Family Well-Being.

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England, P.
Folbre, N.
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This chapter examines the link between bargaining power and parental involvement in married, cohabiting, and noncohabiting parents. The discussion focuses on three elements of parental involvement that are significant for child development: money, time, and emotional care. Among these dimensions, one can be substituted for another but all three are supportive of each other. For example, a high level of father involvement is associated with greater levels of financial support, especially among noncustodial parents. Parents often bargain or negotiate with each other to increase involvement in one area. The amount of bargaining power each parent has will influence the level of involvement of the other parent. Bargaining power is derived from economic and noneconomic sources, as well as the external and internal threat points of the individual. Mothers who are not employed or who have reduced incomes do not have as much bargaining power as their husbands or cohabiting partners who can threaten to withhold economic resources in a negotiation. Greater father involvement enhances the emotional connection between fathers and their children and redistributes the power in the bargaining relationship. The link between bargaining power and parental involvement also can work in the reverse. An increase in resources and bargaining power for women will permit them to allocate more of their earnings to their children. However, this result is limited by the reluctance of the father to provide direct care to the child. Although child support enforcement laws that are intended to increase the economic position of mothers will expand financial resources for children, fathers may react negatively to coercive regulations and actually reduce their emotional connection to their children. 55 references.

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