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: Best of Last Week – Evidence of quark-gluon interactions, new portable device hack and why we may never live forever

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Water crisis threatens thirsty Sao Paulo

6 hours ago

Sao Paulo is thirsty. A severe drought is hitting Brazil's largest city and thriving economic capital with no end in sight, threatening the municipal water supply to millions of people.

Canada to push Arctic claim in Europe

7 hours ago

Canada's top diplomat will discuss the Arctic with his Scandinavian counterparts in Denmark and Norway next week, it was announced Thursday, a trip that will raise suspicions in Russia.

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

7 hours ago

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

NKorea launch pad expansion 'nearing completion'

7 hours ago

A U.S. research institute says construction to upgrade North Korea's main rocket launch pad should be completed by fall, allowing Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng) to conduct a launch by year's end if it decides to do so.

Recommended for you

Orphaned children can do just as well in institutions

1 hour ago

The removal of institutions or group homes will not lead to better child well-being and could even worsen outcomes for some orphaned and separated children, according to new findings from a three-year study across five low- ...

Bronze Age wine cellar found

1 hour ago

A Bronze Age palace excavation reveals an ancient wine cellar, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrew Koh from Brandeis University and colleagues.

Study identifies upside to financial innovations

4 hours ago

Financial innovations can make or break an economy. While the negative impact of financial innovation has been extensively covered, a new study of financial innovations before and during the last financial crisis indicates ...

User comments : 0