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Fathers and their infants: Caregiving and affection in the Modern family
Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment (2009)
  • Terri Combs-Orme, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Lauren E. Renkert

Despite social work's expressed interest in families and belief in the importance of parents to children, social work researchers have done little to explore the importance of fathers in children's everyday lives. This is especially true for infants. Moreover, as more and more infants and children grow up in single-mother homes, step-families, and other family configurations, knowledge is needed about how these demographic trends affect parents' interactions with their young children.

This article examines men's caregiving of infants and their displays of affection in a longitudinal study of a diverse sample of infants and their mothers, using both person-centered and variable-centered statistical methods. Comparisons are made among various “types” of fathers, including those who live with and separately from their children and men who are not biological fathers but live with and care for infants.

Results indicate that caregiving and expressions of affection appear to represent two distinct domains of fathering behaviors for residential fathers. We found two classes of residential fathers: one with low levels of both types of fathering behavior and one with higher levels, particularly higher expressions of affection. Similarly we found two classes of non-residential fathers with dramatically different levels of fathering behavior. Though surrogate fathers did provide affection to their infants, their levels of caregiving were low.

  • fathers,
  • fatherhood,
  • infants,
  • parenting,
  • latent class analysis
Publication Date
Citation Information
Terri Combs-Orme and Lauren E. Renkert. "Fathers and their infants: Caregiving and affection in the Modern family" Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment Vol. 19 Iss. 4 (2009)
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