ERIC Number: ED480654
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-May
Reference Count: N/A
Understanding Fathering: The Early Head Start Study of Fathers of Newborns.
Vogel, Cheri A.; Boller, Kimberly; Faerber, Jennifer; Shannon, Jacqueline D.; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S.
Despite policymakers' increasing interest in how fathers and fathering affect the well-being of children, research into the roles of low-income fathers has not met the needs of policymakers, who could benefit from better understanding of the factors affecting fathers' continuing support of and engagement in relationships with their children. In an effort to advance understanding of these factors, Mathematica Policy Research was funded to conduct research on fathers of newborn babies in conjunction with the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project. The study focused on answering questions about who the fathers are, their level of involvement with their families and children, and how and why involvement changes over time. Fathers were recruited through expectant mothers from Early Head Start and similar comprehensive, community-based programs. Findings are based on two interviews and associated observations with 108 men conducted within the first 14 months of their children's lives. Main findings were as follows: (1) fathers were present in their children's lives, with most living with their children at the time of the interview, and many married to the children's mothers; (2) fathers were involved in multiple ways with their children, including caregiving tasks; (3) fathers engaged their children in nurturing and supportive ways; and (4) fathers faced many stressors, particularly parenting stress, but also had many supports, including high levels of satisfaction and low levels of conflict in their current romantic relationships, someone else they could talk with about parenting, and positive past experiences with their own fathers. Based on findings, Mathematica suggested that Early Head Start and similar programs serving low-income families and their young children (1) recognize that many men are involved with their children and engage the men in program services as early as possible; (2) when possible, encourage fathers to become involved before the child is born; (3) develop ways to encourage mothers to support the men in their roles as fathers; and (4) be aware of the psychological changes and distress that men can experience during this time and, when necessary, link men with mental health services. (Appended are analyses of father-child interactions at 6 and 14 months, and lessons for data collection. Contains 32 references.) (Author/HTH)
Descriptors: Change Strategies, Child Rearing, Family Programs, Family Support, Fathers, Neonates, Parent Attitudes, Parent Child Relationship, Parent Participation, Program Improvement, Well Being
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., 600 Alexander Park, Princeton, NJ 08540. Tel: 609-799-3535; Fax: 609-799-0005; Web site: http:www.mathematica-mpr.com. For full text: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/PDFs/ehsnewborns.pdf.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, NJ.