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J Fam Psychol. 2012 Dec;26(6):848-57. doi: 10.1037/a0030245. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Transactional relations between father involvement and preschoolers' socioemotional adjustment.

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Department of Human Development and Family Science, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Children's socioemotional development is child as well as parent driven. Yet, transactional frameworks are rarely applied to studies of father-child relations. This study examined reciprocal associations between father involvement in play and caregiving and children's adjustment and tested supportive coparenting behavior as a moderator of these associations. One hundred twelve families participated in a 1-year longitudinal study. Fathers reported on their involvement and mothers and teachers reported on preschoolers' behavior at two time points, and supportive coparenting behavior was observed at the second time point. Results showed that father involvement in play predicted relative decreases in externalizing behaviors, and also relative decreases in internalizing behaviors and relative increases in social competence at school only when accompanied by supportive coparenting behavior; reciprocally, fathers showed relative reductions in their play with children initially high in internalizing behaviors perceived by teachers. Father involvement in caregiving predicted relative increases in children's internalizing behaviors, but reciprocal effects indicated that these associations may be driven by children. The presence of reciprocal associations between father involvement and child behaviors that differed for play and caregiving domains and were moderated by supportive coparenting behavior suggests the importance of a transactional, domain-specific, and systemic approach to understanding father-child relations and the implementation of relevant intervention practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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