Biological fathers not necessarily the best, social dads parent well too

Jul 31, 2008

A large number of U.S. children live or will live with a "social father," a man who is married to or cohabiting with the child's mother, but is not the biological father. A new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family examined differences in the parenting practices of four groups of fathers according to whether they were biologically related to a child and whether they were married to the child's mother. Researchers found that married social fathers exhibited equivalent or higher quality parenting behaviors than married and cohabiting biological fathers.

Furthermore, whereas married and cohabiting biological fathers displayed relatively similar quality parenting, the parenting practices of married social fathers were of higher quality than those of cohabiting social fathers. Married social fathers were more engaged with children, took on more shared responsibility in parenting, and were more trusted by mothers to take care of children.

Led by Lawrence M. Berger, PhD, MSW, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, participants were drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal study of children born in 20 large U.S. cities in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sample children were mostly born to unmarried parents and had been followed from birth to approximately age five.

Analyses and regression results from interviews with mothers revealed that they perceived married social fathers to be engaged in relatively high quality parenting practices with the five-year-old children. Most notably, social fathers exhibited significantly higher levels of cooperation in parenting than biological fathers.

"On the whole, our findings suggest that marriage is a better predictor of parenting quality with regard to social fathers than biological fathers," the authors conclude. "Our study is relevant to understanding the quality of parental care that children receive from resident fathers across a range of family configurations that are now commonly experienced by children."

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Teen catches math error in golden ratio at Boston museum

Related Stories

The global gender gap persists, says report

Mar 09, 2015

On March 9, the United Nations will convene to evaluate the global community's progress on gender equality in the 20 years since 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The ...

In Amazon wars, bands of brothers-in-law

Oct 27, 2014

When Yanomamö men in the Amazon raided villages and killed decades ago, they formed alliances with men in other villages rather than just with close kin like chimpanzees do. And the spoils of war came from ...

Recommended for you

Lady, you're on the money

Jul 03, 2015

So far, women whose portraits appear on U.S. money have been a party of three. Excluding commemorative currency, only Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony and Helen Keller appear on coins in general circulation, according ...

Another five things to know about meta-analysis

Jul 01, 2015

Last year I wrote a post of "5 Key Things to Know About Meta-Analysis". It was a great way to focus – but it was hard keeping to only 5. With meta-analyses booming, including many that are poorly done or ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.