Unraveling the Complexities of Fathering: an Analysis of the Psychometric Properties of the Nurturant Fathering Scale
Otima Doyle, MSW, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Edward Pecukonis, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore, and Donna Harrington, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore.
Background and Purpose: Understanding how fathers influence their children's lives is essential to family centered social work practice and to the development of effective policy initiatives to assist children and their families. Although methodological advances have been made, there is much to be discovered as social scientists work to unravel the complexities of this issue, particularly in the context of cultural variations of fatherhood (Lamb & Tamis-LeMonda, 2004). Although there is general agreement that the relationship quality between the father and child is more salient than either characteristics of individual fathers or amount of time spent with the child (Lamb & Tamis-Lemonda, 2004), few reliable and valid scales exist to measure the quality of this relationship (Roggman, Fitzgerald, Bradley, & Raikes, 2002). Given the need for such scales, the objective of this paper is to examine the concurrent and construct validity of the Nurturant Father Scale (NFS) (Finley & Schwartz, 2004). This brief 9-item scale was originally normed on a large, ethnically diverse sample (mostly immigrants and Hispanics), however it's applicability to mainstream American cultures and subcultures is unknown (Finley & Schwartz, 2004). Method: Data were derived from a larger, cross sectional study exploring the impact of perceived father nurturance on various outcomes of youth across several overlapping ethnic and racial backgrounds (Caucasian=65.3%; African American=29.4%; Spanish=5.7%). A convenience sample of older adolescents (n=245), aged 18-25 (X=24.5) completed a paper and pencil version of the survey. A correlation analysis was used to test the concurrent validity of the NFS with the gold standard Parental Acceptance Rejection Questionnaire, father version (Rohner & Khaleque, 2005), and a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to examine the construct validity of the NFS. Results: The correlation between the NFS (á = .95) and PARQ (á = .82) was very strong (r = .88, p <.01). The CFA tested the nine item NFS as a one factor scale, based on Parental Acceptance and Rejection Theory (PARTheory) (Rohner, 1986). Although all loadings were significant, this model did not fit the data well (÷2=119.28, df = 27, p<.05; ÷2/df = 4.42, NFI=.98, RMSEA=.12). After examining modification indices, three error covariances were added to the model, which resulted in a much better fitting model (÷2=68.97, df = 24, p<.001; ÷2/df = 2.87, NFI=.99, RMSEA=.09). Implications: These analyses suggest that the NFS is a promising measure with excellent concurrent and good construct validity. The strong relationship with the 60 item PARQ suggests that the NFS is an excellent alternative, shorter measure. However, the need for the three error covariances suggests that the scale may benefit from some modification. In some cases, these modifications may be within the response anchors themselves and in others modifications in content may be necessary. Whereas, the scale may benefit from additional modification, it is still a very promising, short measure of perceived father nurturance. The ongoing development and assessment of such measures will contribute to our ability to conduct research with practice implications for children and families.