Father Engagement: Enhancing Methodological and Practice Strategies
The four papers included in this symposium focus on issues pertinent to researchers and practitioners conducting basic, prevention, and intervention research. The first paper extends knowledge on the measurement of father involvement by examining differences in mother-father reports of fathering behavior and the factors that predict disagreement between mother’s and father’s reports of father involvement. The second paper presents findings from an assessment of multiple instruments used to measure fathering behavior from both mother and father reports. The third paper provides insight into a relatively unexplored area of research pertaining to fathers’ participation in medical services particularly around the time of birth of a child. The fourth paper presents findings from a study aimed at expanding and enhancing an existing evidence-based program model to engage fathers and increase father involvement in the context of home visitation.
Findings from the first two papers suggest that measurement development work to shore up our understanding of why direct measures of father involvement from fathers themselves, as opposed to relying on mothers’ reports, may be necessary and an area warranted of future exploration. The third and fourth papers taken together go beyond measurement work into intervention development and adaption efforts to promote father involvement in the context of health and social service settings. The strengths of these papers when combined include the use of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to address the research questions, the presentation of findings from studies that collected data firsthand from fathers, and the bridging of research that spans measurement development and related practice strategies.
Jointly these papers improve knowledge regarding the methodological and practice challenges faced by researchers and practitioners seeking to engage fathers and improve child and family outcomes. The papers comprise findings that can be used to guide future research on the relationship between fathers, their role as parents and partners, and the service settings in which they should be engaged.