This study examines the role and influence of fathers and father figures in the lives of African American adolescent girls (N=302) from a representative sample of poor and low-income families. Sixty five percent of the adolescents identified a primary father, of whom two-thirds were biological fathers and one-third were father figures. Adolescent girls reported more contentious and less close relationships with biological fathers than with father figures. Multivariate regression analyses indicated that fathers' emotional disengagement predicted greater depressive symptomatology and behavioral problems for adolescents, while fathers' level of positive engagement was not predictive of youth outcomes. Moreover, fathers' emotional and physical disengagement had an additive detrimental link with adolescent functioning, with the most problematic emotional and behavioral functioning apparent in girls whose fathers were both emotionally alienated and physically absent from their lives. (Author abstract) (Includes graphs and references)
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