Pathways from Father Engagement during Infancy to Child Aggression in Late Childhood


Child aggression and its dire consequences cause social problems. Informed by family systems theory and parenting stress theory, this study specifically examined the mediating pathways from father engagement to child aggression through maternal parenting stress, child resistant attachment, and maternal physical abuse. We conducted a secondary data analysis on 2016 mother–child dyads from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study by building structural equation models. We found indirect effects of father engagement on child aggression through influencing mothers’ parenting stress. Children’s attachment and mothers’ physical abuse mediated the effects of mothers’ stress on child behavior-based aggression and verbal- and mood-based aggression. Interventions should target fostering fathers’ engagement, alleviating mothers’ parenting stress and changing mothers’ abusive parenting, and improving mother–child attachment.

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This research is a secondary data analysis on Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (FFCWS), and no funding has been received to conduct this study.

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Correspondence to Xiafei Wang.

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Xiafei Wang, Qiong Wu, and Susan Yoon all declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This study was approved by the Ohio State University Institutional Review Board for the use of non-public data of FFCWS. This study is a secondary data analysis, so no human participants and/or animals have been involved in this project.

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Wang, X., Wu, Q. & Yoon, S. Pathways from Father Engagement during Infancy to Child Aggression in Late Childhood. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 50, 605–617 (2019).

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  • Father engagement
  • Maternal parenting stress
  • Maternal physical abuse
  • Resistant attachment
  • Child aggression