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Parental Self-Efficacy and Father Involvement among Low-Income Fathers Open Access

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Low-income families are the most rapidly growing segment of the population and experience a large number of significant, chronic stressors (e.g., Addy, Engelhardt, & Skinner, 2013; Evans, 2004). Low-income fathers, in particular, often face significant economic challenges that may serve as barriers to parenting (Coley, 2001). The current study examined both individual (i.e., parental efficacy) and dyadic factors (i.e., co-parenting quality) as predictors of father involvement in 125 resident fathers of young children (ages 8 months to 11 years old). As hypothesized, results indicated a positive correlation between fathers’ parental self-efficacy and father involvement. Additionally, hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that co-parental support and co-parental undermining significantly moderated the relation between parental self-efficacy and father involvement; yet, findings indicated different results depending on the measure of father involvement. Consistent with hypotheses, when father involvement was measured by a five-domain involvement questionnaire (“Multidimensional Father Involvement Scale”), the positive effect of parental self-efficacy on father involvement was stronger under high co-parental support. However, contrary to expectations, the moderating effect of high co-parental undermining also strengthened the positive association between parental self-efficacy and father involvement. In contrast (but consistent with hypotheses), when father involvement was measured by a questionnaire that directly paralleled items on the parental self-efficacy scale (“Efficacy-based Father Involvement Scale”), the positive effect of parental self-efficacy on father involvement was reduced under high co-parental undermining. However, contrary to expectations (and to the direction of the moderation effect found using the five-domain measure), the moderating effect of low co-parental support strengthened the positive association between parental self-efficacy and father involvement. Implications for further research and intervention are discussed.

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