The Role of Fathers

Review of General Psychology

by the American Psychological Association, Inc., 2001

Volume 5(4)             December 2001             p 382405

The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence


Rohner, Ronald P.1, 3; Veneziano, Robert A.2

1 Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection, University of Connecticut

2 Department of Social Work, Western Connecticut State University .

3 Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ronald P. Rohner , Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection, U-58 Family Studies, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-2058. Electronic mail may be sent to

Received Date: October 27, 2000; Revised Date: April 10, 2001; Accepted Date: April 10, 2001


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         Table 1

Table 1


This article explores the cultural construction of fatherhood in America, as well as the consequences of this construction as a motivator for understudying fathersespecially father lovefor nearly a century in developmental and family research. It then reviews evidence from 6 categories of empirical studies showing the powerful influence of fathers' love on children's and young adults' social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning. Much of this evidence suggests that the influence of father love on offspring's development is as great as and occasionally greater than the influence of mother love. Some studies conclude that father love is the sole significant predictor of specific outcomes after controlling for the influence of mother love. Overall, father love appears to be as heavily implicated as mother love of offsprings' psychological well-being and health, as well as in an array of psychological and behavioral problems.

For most people, life's major satisfactions and pain revolve around personal relationships with others ( Duck, 1988, 1991; Rohner, 1994, 1999). For children, the most powerful of these others are parents. 1 A vast literature shows that the quality of personal relationships especially personal relationships with parents for childrenis a major predictor of psychosocial functioning and development for both children and adults. One dramatically important component of the concept quality of relationship has to do with warmth, supportiveness, comforting, caring, nurturance, affection, or simply love. In the context of parentchild relationships, we summarize these elements under the construct parental acceptancerejection or, more broadly, under the rubric of the warmth dimension of parenting (Rohner, 1986, 1999). Four decades of cross-cultural and intracultural research on issues of parental acceptance rejection by Rohner (1960, 1975, 1986, 2001) show that parents anywhere in the world can express their love or lack of love in any one or a combination of four major ways. Parents can, for example, be warm and affectionate (or cold and unaffectionate), hostile and aggressive, or indifferent and neglecting, or they can engage in undifferentiated rejection. Undifferentiated rejection refers to individuals' affectively charged belief that their parents do (or did) not really care about them, want them, or love them, without necessarily having clear behavioral indicators that the parents are (or were) unaffectionate, aggressive, or neglecting toward them. These and other such related concepts as parental support, nurturance, closeness, and caringconcepts that are often used more or less interchangeably by researchers are all central elements in the overarching construct of parental acceptance rejection or, simply, parental love.

Research in every major ethnic group of America (Rohner, 2001), in dozens of nations internationally (Khaleque & Rohner , in press ; Rohner , 1975, 1986, 2001 ) has shown that children and adults everywhere regardless of differences in race, language, gender, or culture appear to respond in the same way when they experience themselves to be loved (accepted) or unloved (rejected) by the people most important to them growing up. The overwhelming bulk of research dealing with parental acceptance rejection concentrates on mothers' behavior, however. Historically, the possible influence of fathers' behavior has been largely ignored.

This article discusses evidence regarding the relative sparseness of research on fathers, especially on father love. It then explores the cultural construction of fatherhood in America Phares , 1996, 1997 ).

Fathers: The Historically Understudied

Little is known about parents' actual behavior within American families before the 1930s, when empirical research on children and families had its fullest beginnings. Most of what is known about child rearing before that time comes from such sources as popular magazines, medical and religious books, journals, and biographies. These texts tended to exhort parents almost always mothers to behave in a particular way. Or they claimed that parents (mothers) behaved in a particular way without providing evidence that the claim was true. In addition, some authors made sweeping but undocumented generalizations about the effects of maternal (but rarely paternal) behavior. Some, for example, went so far as to place the entire burden of children's well-being in this life and the next on mothers' shoulders. In 1849, for instance, Elizabeth Hall wrote in Mother's Assistant magazine:

Yes, mothers, in a certain sense, the destiny of a redeemed world is put into your hands; it is for you to say, whether your children shall be respectable and happy here and prepared for a glorious immortality, or whether they shall dishonor you, and perhaps bring your grey hairs in sorrow to the grave, and sink down themselves at last to eternal despair! (p. 27)

Earlier, in the 1700s, Rousseau had already proclaimed that mothers love will cure society's ills (as cited in Hewlett, 1992 ; Lamb, 1975, 1981, 1986, 1997; Mackey, 1996; Radin , 1981. We turn now to an exploration of the following question: Why has father love been so understudied for nearly a century in research on parent child relations?

Fatherhood Is a Cultural Construction

Though usually unintended and often unrecognized, much of behavioral science is a value-laden enterprise (<-- --> Kaplan, 1964 ; Silverstein & Auerbach , 1999 ). Research questions that are regarded as appropriate or sensible at a particular point in time are usually situated within a matrix of cultural beliefs often widely accepted within the dominant population at large, but certainly within the scientific community Read More ..ecifically. The issue of fatherhood is a case in point. Fatherhood is a cultural construction (Doherty, Kouneski , & Erickson, 1998 ), and once formulated it has implications for the subsequent behavior of those who share the beliefs and assumptions defining that construction.

The issue here is to understand the meanings commonly associated in the United States in relation to motherhood and to explore the implications of this conception for behavioral science research on parentchild relationships.

For most Americans, the concepts father, fatherhood, and fathering appear to connote very different domains of behavior and affect from the concepts mother, motherhood, and mothering. Semantically, the cultural construction of fathering, for example, implies nothing about father love as does the genderized equivalent of mother love that is contained semantically in the construct mothering. The word fathering father love fathering is almost never used in this context. When used, the term is typically found in the context of the question Who begot whom? Even the gender-neutral term mother . And we have found in our own teaching that studentsincluding advanced graduate studentsoften misread and even mishear the term as being , which is then sometimes translated as .

In some respects, the conception of fatherhood has shifted dramatically over the course of the last 300 years of American history (Lamb, 2000 ). According to E. H. breadwinner . From 1900 to 1970 the ideal father was the genial playmate dad and gender role model. And from the 1970s to today the ideal image of father is said to be one who is a co-parent, sharing equally with his mate in the care of their children. This portrayal of the cultural conception of the ideal father is greatly oversimplified, of course, but it does contain important ideas that have been widely shared, and it shows how cultural conceptions of fatherhood have shifted over time.

One of the most enduring historical elements defining fatherhood has nothing to do with rearing children but deals with the assumption that the major role of fathers within the family is as economic provider: the breadwinner (La Rossa , 1997 ). Throughout much of the 20th century and earlier beginning with the advent of industrialization in the 19th century many American men judged themselves (and were judged by others), judged their personal worth, and judged their success as husbands and fathers in relation to their ability to provide economically for their families (Stearns, 1991 ). Since the 1940s, this essential role has been deemphasized somewhat, although it has not been altogether abandoned or replaced. The shared ideology of male breadwinning was used by many researchers over the course of the 20th century to explain fathers' apparently limited involvement in child care ( Cabrera, Tamis-LeMonda , Bradley, Hofferth , & Lamb, 2000 ; Nash, 1965 ; Amato, 1998 ; Belsky , 1998 ; Benson, 1968 ). These conceptions seemed to have led in the popular press and in many television portrayals during the 1950s and 1960s to an image of the irrelevant, mindless, ineffectual, sometimes bumbling and incompetent father (Mackey, 1996 ). Not all literary and visual portrayals of fathers were negative, however. For example, movies and television series such as The Cosby Show Dickens's (1843) and Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird are two cases in point. And even though comic strip fathers were sometimes lampooned in the 20th century as being bumbling incompetents, Phares , 1992, 1996 ). With this phalanx of distinguished theories converging on a view that was widely believed in America anyway, few developmental researchers in the first half of the 20th century thought it essential to inquire directly about fathers' influence in child development. Shared wisdom asserted that competent and nurturant mothering was all children really needed for successful cognitive, social, and emotional development ( Maccoby & Martin, 1983 ). This premise may be summarized as follows: The most important contribution a father can make to his children is achieved through providing for and loving their mother. In summary, the widely held cultural construction of fatherhood prior to the 1970s (and still held by many today) has two strands. One deals with fathers' competence as caregivers, and the other deals with the influence of fathering on child development. The first strand asserts that fathers are often incompetent and maybe even biologically unsuited to the job of child rearing. (The maternal counterpoint is that women are genetically endowed for child care.) The second strand asserts that fathers' influence in child development is relatively unimportant or at least peripheral or indirect. (The maternal counterpoint is that mother love and competent maternal care provide everything that children need for normal, healthy development.)

The effect of internalizing these cultural beliefs as one's own personal beliefs seems to have led to sometimes unintended and unrecognized but nonetheless real consequences. The most notable outcome of acting on these beliefs throughout most of the 20th century was to minimize fathers' presence in much of mainstream behavioral science research as well as in clinical research ( Phares , 1997 ). Because it was assumed that mothers but not necessarily fathers were important in child development, researchers tended to study mostly mothers' behavior. Of course, they found significant effects of maternal behavior that served to motivate researchers even further to study mothers. But a subtle side effect of these results also seemed to reinforce researchers' belief that fathers must not be all that important because mothers were being shown to be so very important. More over, behavioral scientists and clinical practitioners felt further justified in excluding fathers from their work because mothers spent the greatest amount of time with children, and therefore it was reasoned that they must also have the greatest influence on children's development as well as on treatment outcomes ( Phares , 1996 ). Finally, fathers tended to be omitted from research and treatment models because they were assumed to be inaccessible as a result of their out-of-home economic responsibilities.

The relatively little research that included fathers prior to 1970 dealt with a variety of issues, but seldom with father love per se. This omission seems to have been encouraged by the widespread tendency among both researchers and theorists to accept without question the assumption that fathers express less affection and understanding toward children than do mothers (Walters & Stinnett, 1971 , p. 102). Indeed, many behavioral scientists and clinicians seemed to accept the postulate that fathers' major role in the family was in the instrumental domain, whereas mothers' major role was in the expressive affective domain (

Though it was not until the 1960s that researchers began to find with any regularity that father love was as predictive as mother love of children's psychological and behavioral adjustment, occasional note was made of this fact as early as the 1940s. R. W. Lidz and Lidz (1949), for example, claimed that faulty paternal influences were as common as maternal influences in the development of child psychopathology. Later, T. Lidz, Parker, and Cornelison (1956) claimed that domineering, sadistic, and rejecting fathers were Read More ..plicated in the etiology of schizophrenia than were mothers. Peterson et al. (1959) completed one of the first studies examining the attitudes of both fathers and mothers and their effects on both disturbed and normal children. From this research, the authors noted that contrary to general assumption and our own original expectation, the attitudes of fathers were found to be at least as intimately related as the attitudes of mothers to the occurrence and form of maladjustive tendencies among children (p. 129).

Empirical evidence such as this about the strong influence of father love led Becker, Peterson, Hellmer, Shoemaker, and Quay (1959) and Becker (1960) to make an emphatic call for Read More ..stematic study of the role of fathers in child development. And later, in his classic review of the literature on parent child relations, Becker (1964) wrote, where both mothers and fathers have been studied, most of the research has shown the father's influence on the child's behavior to be at least equal to that of the mother (p. 204). For the most part, this early evidence and call for additional research about the possible influence of fathers' behavior was ignored because the then current cultural ideology continued to endorse the primacy-of-the-mother doctrine.

Nearly a decade later, in a major review of the 1960s parent child relationship literature, Yet, much of the evidence of the past decade suggests that the variability of children's behavior is Read More ..osely associated with the type of father one has than the type of mother [italics added]. (p. 102)

Other early sources of evidence about the importance of fathering and father love also went Read More .. less unheeded because of the cultural bias in America Hanson & Bozett , 1991 ).

A number of the studies reviewed subsequently continued to show, as in earlier decades, that fathers' influence was as great as mothers' for specific developmental outcomes. But it was not until the 1990s that the third source of influence came into full play, causing many behavioral scientists to fully recognize that fathers should be included in studies dealing with parent child relations. This source of influence derived from research results based on readily accessible, easily used, and powerful multivariate statistical packages. Use of multivariate statistics, including multiple regression and structural equation modeling (SEM), allowed investigators to control simultaneously for the influence of a variety of variables. In doing so, researchers discovered that father love sometimes explains a unique, independent portion of the variance in specific child outcomes, over and above the portion of variance explained by mother love. Indeed, some studies reviewed later found that father love is the sole significant predictor of specific child outcomes after removing the influence of mother love.

Six Categories of Studies Show the Influence of Father Love

Six categories of empirical studies show the influence of father love on specific child outcomes: (a) Some studies look exclusively at the influence of variations of father love without examining the influence of mother love too; (b) some conclude that father love is equally as important as mother love in predicting specific child outcomes; (c) some conclude that father love predicts specific child outcomes better than mother love; (d) some conclude that father love is the sole significant predictor of specific child outcomes after removing the influence of mother love; (e) some conclude that father love moderates (Baron & Kenny, 1986 ) the influence of mother love on specific child outcomes; and, finally, (f) some conclude that paternal versus maternal parenting may be associated with a single outcome or with different outcomes in sons and daughters. These six categories emerged naturalistically from the growing body of empirical research dealing with the influence of father love. Three of the categories (the second through fourth) are especially noteworthy because they show that father love continues to make a unique and significant contribution to child outcomes after statistically controling for the influence of mother love.

We briefly review each of these six categories of evidence. Of course, many other aspects of fathers' behavior, some of which may be closely related to father love such as father involvement, father absence, and fathers' psychological and behavioral state also influence child development. Here, though, we focus on the impact of father love (or paternal acceptance rejection) per se because, as studies reviewed subsequently show, father love by itself is implicated in a wide array of developmental issues. These include youths' psychological adjustment, behavior problems, delinquency, gender role development, cognitive/academic/intellectual development, achievement, and social competence.

More over, father love has also been shown to be associated with children's and adults' psychological health and sense of well-being. Even though some of these studies conclude that father love is the sole significant predictor of specific outcomes after controlling for the influence of mother love none suggest that mother love is unimportant in other contexts.

We should note here that authors of the articles reviewed subsequently use a variety of terms to discuss different aspects of the father love (paternal acceptance rejection) construct. Many of these concepts, such as paternal warmth, nurturance, support, caring, and affection, are used more or less interchangeably and synonymously with paternal acceptance rejection. Because of this, we generally retain the major terms used by the various authors. Sample characteristics of the empirical studies cited in this article are provided in Table 1 .






Studies Looking Exclusively at Variations in the Influence of Father Love

Many studies looking exclusively at the influence of variations in father love deal with two topics: (a) gender role development ( Fish & Biller , 1973 ; Musser & Fleck, 1983 ) and (b) father involvement ( Harris, Furstenberg, & Marmer , 1998 ; warm, regardless of how masculine the fathers were, even though warmth and intimacy have traditionally been seen as feminine characteristics. A similar conclusion was suggested by research on other aspects of psychosocial adjustment and on achievement: Paternal warmth or closeness appeared beneficial, whereas paternal masculinity appeared irrelevant. (p. 9)

The second domain in which a substantial amount of research has been done on the influence of variations in father love deals with father involvement, that is, with the amount of time that fathers spend with their children (engagement), the extent to which fathers make themselves available to their children (accessibility), and the extent to which they take responsibility for their children's care and welfare (responsibility; Lamb, Pleck , Chernov , & Levine, 1987 ). Many studies conclude that children with highly involved fathers, in relation to children with less involved fathers, tend to be Read More ..gnitively and socially competent, less inclined toward gender stereotyping, more empathic, and psychologically better adjusted ( Pleck , 1997 ; Radin & Russell, 1983 ; Radin & Sagi , 1982 ; Reuter & Biller , 1973 ; E. Williams & Finley, 1997 ). Commonly, these studies investigate both paternal warmth and paternal involvement and findusing simple correlationsthat the two variables are related to each other and to youth outcomes.

It is unclear from these studies whether involvement and warmth make independent or joint contributions to youth outcomes. More over, caring for children is not necessarily the same thing as caring about them. Indeed, Cabrera et al., 2000 ; Lamb, 1997 ). J. H. Veneziano and Rohner (1998) supports these conclusions. In a biracial sample of 63 African American and European American children, the authors found from multiple regression analyses that father involvement by itself was associated with children's psychological adjustment primarily insofar as it was perceived by youths to be an expression of paternal warmth (acceptance). These results varied by ethnicity, however. In the European American families, fathers' loving acceptance significantly mediated ( Veneziano's (1998) cross-cultural comparative, holocultural study. Using multiple regression analysis, in a sample of 32 societies representing the world's known and adequately described sociocultural systems, he found that the lack of paternal warmthnot the amount of time that fathers were involved with children predicted young males' interpersonal violence.


As we indicated earlier, many of the studies concluding that father love is as influential as mother love go back to the 1940s. Most of these conclusions, especially those prior to the 1980s, are drawn from correlational studies in which the simple correlation between a specific measure of paternal love and a specific child outcome is as great as or greater than the simple correlation between the same measure of maternal love and the child outcome. Read More ..cently, however, the 1980s and 1990s saw behavioral scientists use forms of multivariate analyses that allowed them to conclude that both fathers' and mothers' behaviors are associated significantly and uniquely with specific child outcomes.

The great majority of studies showing that father love is as important as mother love deal with one or a combination of the following five issues among children, adolescents, and young adults: (a) personality and psychological adjustment problems including issues of self-concept/self-esteem, emotional stability, and aggression ( Buri , 1989 ; Buri , Murphy, Richtsmeier , & Komar , 1992 ; Dekovic & Meeus , 1997 ; Fine, Voydanoff , & Donnelly, 1993 ; McPherson, 1974 ; Monkman , 1958 ; Nash, 1965 ; Peterson et al., 1959 ; Peterson, Becker, Shoemaker, Luria , & Hellmer , 1961 ; Becker, 1960 ; DeKlyen , Biernbaum , Speltz , & Greenberg, 1998 ; DeKlyen , Speltz , & Greenberg, 1998 ; McPherson, 1974 ; Russell & Russell, 1996 ; Siantz & Smith, 1994 ); (c) cognitive and academic performance issues (Amato, 1998 ; Peppin , 1962 ); (d) mental illness (Arrindell , Emmelkamp , Monsma , & Brilman , 1983 ; Greenberger & Chen, 1996 ; R. W. Lidz & Lidz , 1949 ; T. Lidz et al., 1956 ; Richter, Richter, & Eisemann , 1990 ); and (e) substance abuse ( Young, Miller, Norton, and Hill (1995) illustrates this. These authors drew from a national sample of 640 adolescents 12 to 16 years old living in two-parent families. Employing SEM techniques, they found that perceived paternal love and caring were as predictive of sons' and daughters' life satisfactionincluding their sense of well-beingas maternal love and caring. Review of a broad range of studies such as these led fathers

Two types of studies are common in this category. First, results of some bivariate correlational studies have led researchers to conclude that fathers' love is Read More ..rongly associated than mothers' love with specific child behaviors such as those noted subsequently. Second, the 1980s and especially the 1990s saw a proliferation of studies using multiple regression and SEM. As these analytic procedures became Read More ..mmonplace, it also became Read More ..mmon to discover that the influence of father love explains a unique, independent portion of the variance in specific child outcomesdetailed subsequentlyover and above the portion of variance explained by mother love.

Studies in this category tend to deal with one or Read More .. the following six issues among children, adolescents, and young adults: (a) personality and psychological adjustment problems ( Stagner , 1933 ; Eron et al., 1961 ; Grant et al., 2000 ), (c) delinquency ( Andry , 1962 ), (d) mental illness ( Emmelkamp & Heeres , 1988 ), and (f) psychological health and well-being ( Amato, 1994 ). We briefly review an example of each issue.

Research by Andry (1962) illustrates the third type of study: the link between paternal and maternal rejection and delinquency. Here Andry found in a matched sample of 80 delinquent boys 11 through 15 years of age that the great majority of delinquents felt rejected by their fathers but not necessarily by their mothers. Nondelinquents , on the other hand, tended to feel loved by both parents. Of special interest in Andry's study is the fact that fathers as well as mothers in the two groups tended to corroborate the youths' perceptions of parenting.

Research by Campo and Rohner (1992) illustrates the fifth issue, dealing with the relation between parenting and substance abuse. These researchers studied 40 drug abusers in relation to a control sample of 40 nonabusers . On the average, the polydrug -addicted groupboth males and femaleshad experienced qualitatively Read More ..ternal rejection than acceptance before the onset of serious drug use as adolescents. The substance abusers had also experienced significant love withdrawal at the hands of their mothers, but not to the point of having experienced qualitatively more rejection than acceptance. Participants in the nonabuse group, on the other hand, had experienced substantial paternal as well as maternal love and acceptance in their families of origin. Discriminant function analysis showed that perceived paternal acceptancerejection, self-reported psychological adjustment, perceived maternal acceptancerejection, and level of education (in that order of importance) predicted with 91.2% accuracy who among the 80 participants were drug abusers versus nonabusers . Perceptions of father love and love withdrawal were overwhelmingly the best single predictor.


A growing number of studies using a variety of multivariate statistics have begun to conclude that father love is occasionally the sole significant predictor of specific child outcomes after removing the influence of mother love. Studies in this category tend to deal most often with one or Read More .. the following three issues among children, adolescents, and young adults: (a) personality and psychological adjustment problems ( Barnett, Marshall, & Pleck , 1992 ; Dickie et al., 1997 ; DuBos , Eitel , & Felner , 1994 ; Matsuda & Ritblatt , 1998 ; Kroupa , 1988 ), and (c) substance abuse (Brook, Whiteman, & Gordon, 1981 ; parents that fatherchild conflict but not motherchild conflict (each controlling for the other) was positively associated with adolescent depressive symptoms. More over, fatheradolescent cohesion was positively associated with the absence of adolescent depressive symptoms. These results are consistent with regression , the authors found that teachers' ratings of youths' social competence and conduct problems were associated with the adolescents' perceptions of paternal but not maternal acceptance.

A 6-year longitudinal study begun in 1981 by Brody, Moore, and Glei (1994) showed that paternal (but not maternal) warmth had a significant long-term effect in shaping adolescents' attitudes in 1987 toward such social issues as marriage, divorce, sex roles, child support, welfare, and teenage childbearing. More specifically, the warmer fathers were and the Read More ..olescents were allowed to participate in family decision making in 1981, the Read More ..olescents internalized their parents' values over time as being their own. This relationship was true only for warm fatheradolescent relationships. Warm motheradolescent relationships had no significant effect on youths' later attitudes. Results from this study were based on 592 families participating in a nationally representative household survey of 11- to 16-year-old youths.


Fathers' behavior may moderate and be moderated bythat is, interact with (Baron & Kenny, 1986 ; Forehand and Nousiainen (1993) found in a sample of 70 adolescents and their parents that the relative level of fathers' love and acceptance moderated the contribution of mothers' loving acceptance to adolescent functioning. Specifically, variation in father love contributed to adolescents' cognitive competence as well as to anxietywithdrawal (internalizing problems) through its interaction with maternal acceptance. Regarding cognitive competence, for example, when mothers were high in acceptance but fathers were low, teachers judged youths' cognitive competence to be quite low, lower even than when mothers' acceptance was also low. But when fathers' loving acceptance was high, mothers' loving acceptance was associated with the most positive levels of cognitive competence. From this study, the authors drew the important inference that simply including fathers in parent-adolescent research is insufficient. Instead, the potential ways in which each parent's style contributes to the other parent's style must be considered (p. 219).

Paternal Versus Maternal Parenting May Be Associated With Different Outcomes in Sons and Daughters

Two types of research tend to be found in this category. First, some research shows that one pattern of paternal behavior and a different pattern of maternal behavior is associated with a single outcome in sons, daughters, or sometimes both offspring. Second, other research in this category shows that a single pattern of paternal love-related behavior is associated with one outcome for sons and a different outcome for daughters. We briefly review examples of both types.

The work of Bronson, 1959 ; Distler , 1965 ; Kelly & Worell , 1976 ; Mussen , 1961 ; Mussen & Distler , 1959 ; Payne & Mussen , 1956 ).

The work of Terman & Merrill, 1960 ). Paternal nurturance was unrelated, however, to daughters' performance on the scale.

Finally, a second study is also broadly illustrative of this second type of research. Here

The body of work reviewed in this article shows that paternal acceptancerejection (father love) is heavily implicated not only in children's and adults' psychological well-being and health but also in an array of psychological and behavioral problems. More over, this body of work suggests that father love may affect offspring development at all ages from infancy through at least young adulthood. Read More ..ecifically, evidence discussed here shows that father love is often associated as robustly as mother love with a variety of outcomes. For example, both father and mother lovewithdrawal (parental rejection) have been significantly implicated in offsprings ' personality and psychological adjustment problems, including issues of negative self-concept, negative self-esteem, emotional instability, anxiety, social and emotional withdrawal, and aggression; conduct problems, including externalizing behaviors and delinquency; drug and alcohol abuse; cognitive and academic difficulties; and forms of mental disorder such as depression, depressed affect, and borderline personality disorder.

On the other hand, both paternal and maternal love (parental acceptance) have been shown to be effective buffers against many of these problems, as well as being associated with a sense of happiness and well-being in adolescence and adulthood, physical and psychological health, social competence, academic achievement, and the internalization of parental values as one's own values. Even though mother love is associated with all of these outcomes, evidence reviewed in this article suggests that father love is even Read More ..rongly associated with many. More over, multiple regression and SEM analyses conclude that the influence of mother love sometimes disappears altogether, leaving father love as the sole significant predictor of such outcomes as personality and psychological adjustment problems, conduct and delinquency problems, and substance abuse.

Several problems and limitations characterize this body of research. First, most of the work appears to deal with middle-class European American parents. Research on the influence of father love among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans is relatively uncommon, and it is equally rare in cross-cultural studies. As a result, it remains for future research to determine the extent to which results reported here can be generalized beyond middle-class European American families. Second, many of the studies reviewed here relied on a single source (e.g., youths' or parents' reports) to provide information about both parental acceptancerejection and the relevant outcome variable(s). As noted by Campbell and Fiske (1959) ; Marsiglio , Amato, Day, and Lamb (2000) ; and others, however, shared-method variance in studies such as these might artificially inflate the correlation between variables, resulting in an overestimate of the true effect size.

Third, even though it seems unmistakably clear that father love makes an important contribution to offsprings ' development and psychological functioning, it is not at all clear why paternal acceptancerejection is sometimes Read More ..rongly associated with specific child outcomes than is maternal acceptancerejection. And it is unclear why patterns of paternal versus maternal parenting are sometimes associated with different outcomes for sons, daughters, or both children. Part of the reason for these differences no doubt lies in the fact that fathers and mothers often interact with their children in somewhat different ways ( Collins & Russell, 1991 ; Forehand & Nousiainen , 1993 ; Parke, 1996 ). In addition, fathers are more likely than mothers to encourage children's competitiveness and independence and to encourage their children to take risks ( Harris, 1998 ; Rowe, 1994, 2001 ). Some of these differences, however, are probably related to the fact that fathers are often perceived to have Read More ..wer and authority within the family than do mothers ( Parke, 1995 ). That is, because of the enormous cultural emphasis placed on the role of motherhood in America, some women are ambivalent about encouraging fathers to become heavily involved as nurturing parents ( Cowan & Bronstein, 1988 ; Doherty et al., 1998 ; Caplan & Hall-McCorquodale , 1985 ; Kim & Rohner , 2001 ; Phares & Compas , 1992 ). This call for separate measurement and analyses of maternal and paternal influences is contrary to the argument made by some ( Kurdek & Fine, 1994 ; Silverstein and Phares (1996) and others (e.g., Kerr & Bowen, 1988 ; Parke, 1995 ;

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1 In this article, the term is defined as whoever the most important caregivers are of a child. These people are not necessarily mothers or fathers. But typically they are. [Context Link]

2 It would be misleading to imply that all studies of boys' gender role development dealt with fatherson relationships only. The motherson relationship was sometimes included. Overall, however, results suggested that a nurturant fatherson relationship is Read More ..portant to a boy's development of masculinity than is the motherson relationship ( [Context Link]

Accession Number: 00063906-200112000-00003

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Version: rel6.0.0, SourceID 1.7240.1.123 Jill Christine Williams



"A witty saying proves nothing."

-          Voltaire (1694-1778)

it  is better to be happy 
for a moment 
and be burned up with beauty 
than  to live a long time 
and be bored all the while   
--Excerpt from the Lesson of the Moth by Don Marquis 
Some words used to describe me: 
Direct, Brave, Analytical, Sensitive, Daring, Spontaneous 
Suspicious, Aloof, Fault-finding (pessimistic), Egocentric, Restless, Having High standards  
I like: 
Recognition  of work accomplished and specific skills 
Planning, making goals 
Change , but once a plan is decided I am loyal in sticking to it 
Independence , being able to do things at my own pace and according to my own likeness 
Thinking  things through before making a decision 
Long, lasting friendships that endure 
I can be (positive): 
Inventive , come up with neat, original ways of problem solving or new ideas, or look at things from a different perspective 
Open for new Challenges --and stick to them without fear and without giving up 
Hard worker , dedicated to my work 
Detail-oriented , able to see the little things that make up a big project  
I can be (negative): 
Insensitive  to others when focusing on tasks or when desiring to reach a certain objective 
Aloof , set back from group or stubborn when I feel excluded or not needed 
Reserved , unwilling to share information about myself 
Argumentative, uncooperative  if I feel that my opinions are not being considered or if I feel really strongly about something