Abstract: Exploring the Determinants of Father Involvement Among Non-Resident African American Fathers: The Role of Co-Parental Alliance & Parenting Self-Efficacy (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Exploring the Determinants of Father Involvement Among Non-Resident African American Fathers: The Role of Co-Parental Alliance & Parenting Self-Efficacy

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Brianna Lemmons, PhD, Assistant Professor, Baylor University, TX
Qiana Cryer-Coupet, PhD, Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University, NC
Marquitta Dorsey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Loyola University, Chicago, Chicago, IL
Ericka Lewis, PhD, LMSW, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

The diversity that now characterizes contemporary American families has necessitated a more broadened and complex understanding of families and fatherhood (Tamis-LeMonda & Cabrera, 1999). From generation to generation, our expectations for the fathering role change (Hammond, Caldwell, Brooks, & Bell, 2011). Qualitative studies have highlighted the various ways in which non-resident and low-income African American men perceive their role as fathers. Overall, most studies suggest that African American fathers consider their role to be multidimensional and to extend beyond economic provision, despite the overwhelming focus on this particular function (Julion, 2002; Dubowitz, Lane, Greif, Jensen, & Lamb, 2006; Hammond, Caldwell, Brooks, & Bell, 2011). One role that has been understudied within the literature is that of discipline and monitoring. Given the protective role that discipline, and monitoring can play in preventing adverse outcomes for children and adolescents, this is an important topic to explore among non-resident African American fathers.


The parent study employed a mixed methods sequential explanatory research design using a convenience sample of 110 non-resident African American fathers who were participants in 8 responsible fatherhood programs located in the north east and south east regions of the United States. The current study presents the quantitative (n= 97) portion of the results. Specifically, a four-step hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to understand the relationship between 9 predictors variables of engagement in discipline and monitoring among non-resident African American fathers with their children, who ranged in age from 5-17 (mean=10.67, sd=3.92). Drawing on Belsky’s Process Model of the Determinants of Parenting, predictor variables were placed into the following categories: 1) Demographic Factors, 2) Father Factors, 3) Child Factors, and 4) Family Contextual Factors. Several standardized scales were employed to capture the variables of interest in the study, including the Parenting Sense of Competence Efficacy Scale Subscale (∝=.78), the Parenting Alliance Inventory (∝=.94), and the Father Presence Questionnaire, Feelings About the Father Scale (∝=.96). All demographic variables were captured using the Julion Index of Paternal Involvement Demographic Questionnaire. The model tested controlled for the father’s age, number of children, and level of education.


The overall model was significant, F (9, 88) = 2.81, p < .01 and accounted for 14% of the variance in fathers’ engagement in monitoring and discipline. In this model, paternal parenting self-efficacy (β = .46, p = .04) and co-parenting alliance (β = .20, p = .01) were positively related to engagement in monitoring and discipline.

Conclusions and Implications

Attention to African American non-resident fathers’ skills in the area of discipline and monitoring could serve as a strategy for preventing adverse outcomes for their children, particularly among those who father in urban contexts. Results suggest that co-parental alliance and parenting self-efficacy are the most significant predictors of engagement in discipline and monitoring. These findings have implications for the development of culturally specific interventions aimed at fostering the co-parenting relationship and increasing confidence in fathering as a means of encouraging involvement in discipline and monitoring, thereby promoting healthy developmental outcomes for African American children.