COLUMBUS, Ohio Mothers play an important role in determining how much fathers get involved in taking care of their infants, according to new research.
A study of 97 couples found that fathers were more involved in the day-to-day care of their infants when they received active encouragement from their wife or partner.
In fact, this encouragement was important even after taking into account fathers and mothers views about how involved dads should be, the overall quality of the couples parenting relationship, and how much mothers worked outside the home.
In addition, fathers beliefs about how involved they should be in child care did not matter when mothers were highly critical of fathers parenting. In other words, fathers didnt put their beliefs into practice when faced with a particularly judgmental mother.
Mothers are in the drivers seat, said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.
Mothers can be very encouraging to fathers, and open the gate to their involvement in child care, or be very critical, and close the gate.
This is the first real evidence that mothers, through their behavior, act as gatekeepers by either fostering or curtailing how much fathers take part in caring for their baby.
Schoppe-Sullivan conducted the study with Elizabeth Cannon, a graduate student at Ohio State, along with Geoffrey Brown and Sarah Mangelsdorf of the University of Illinois, and Margaret Szewczyk Sokolowski. Their results appear in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology.
The study included 97 couples in the Midwest who were married or cohabiting, and who were expecting a child when the study began. Before the birth, the couples completed a survey that probed their beliefs about the roles of fathers in taking care of children. About 3.5 months after the child was born, the researchers cond
|Contact: Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan|
Ohio State University