The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Fostering Positive Father-Child Interactions: Examining Paternal Risk Factors Associated With Child Conduct Problems in African American Families

Saturday, January 18, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Ericka M. Lewis, LMSW, Doctoral Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Patricia L. Kohl, PhD, Associate Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Purpose: Fatherlessness is becoming more prevalent in the United States, as nearly 50% of African American families consist of fathers living outside of the home. Father-child relationships play a major role in child behavioral outcomes. Literature suggests a father’s interaction with his child has a stronger correlation to disruptive behaviors than does a mother’s interaction. Yet, little is known about parental risk factors that lead to child conduct problems in African American children, as well as the role father residency plays in the risk of child behavior problems.  The purpose of this study is to examine the following questions:

1. Are father involvement, negative parenting behaviors, and stress associated with child conduct problems?

2. Is this association significant when controlling for paternal age, education, employment, and history of incarceration?

3. Is there a difference in conduct problems in children of resident and non-resident fathers?

Methods:  This study used baseline data from a larger project to develop and test a strategy to engage low-income African American fathers in Triple P, an evidence-based parenting intervention. Participants consisted of 68 African American fathers, (mean age= 35.5; sd=9.29), with children between the ages of four and twelve and held active roles as caregivers.  Most fathers (40% residential; 60% non-residential) were single, not living with a partner (82%), unemployed (72%), and had been incarcerated at some point during the child’s life (53%).   Data were collected through a computer-administered standardized measuring parenting stress (Parenting Stress Index), child behavior (Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory), and parenting behavior (Alabama Parenting Questionnaire). A multivariate regression model and independent samples t test were conducted to analyze data.

Results: In the multivariate regression analysis testing disruptive child behaviors on father involvement, negative parenting behaviors, and stress yielded statistically significant results, F(7, 53)=11.75, p< .0001, when controlling for age, education, employment status, and history of incarceration. The model accounted for 60% of the variance in disruptive child behaviors. Controlling for all other variables in the model, there were statistically significant relationships between disruptive child behaviors and father involvement (b=-1.51, t= -3.11, p< .01), negative parenting behaviors (b= 2.26, t=2.70, p<.01), and parent stress (b=.61, t= 2.82, p< .01).  When looking at the difference in disruptive child behaviors between residential and non-residential fathers, there were no statistically significant findings t(59)=.27, p<.78).


Conclusion/Implication: As the quality of father involvement decreases, men also report more negative parenting, and higher levels of parenting stress, suggesting interplay between parenting factors and child behaviors within African American families. Furthermore, there are no significant differences between resident and non-resident fathers experiences with disruptive child behaviors, which highlights that parenting influences child behavior, independent of whether or not fathers live in the home with the child. More research focusing on parent training strategies geared toward father involvement is warranted, as evidence highlighting the best strategies for engaging fathers in parent training interventions is scant.