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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. 1.

    Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Ridder EM (2007) Conduct and attentional problems in childhood and adolescence and later substance use, abuse and dependence: results of a 25-year longitudinal study. Drug Alcohol Depend 88(Suppl 1):S14–S26

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Helfritz LE, Stanford MS (2006) Personality and psychopathology in an impulsive aggressive college sample. Aggres Behav 32(1):28–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Fergusson DM, John Horwood L, Ridder EM (2005) Show me the child at seven: the consequences of conduct problems in childhood for psychosocial functioning in adulthood. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 46(8):837–849

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Scott S, Knapp M, Henderson J, Maughan B (2001) Financial cost of social exclusion: follow up study of antisocial children into adulthood. BMJ 323(7306):191

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Edwards RT, Ceilleachair A, Bywater T, Hughes DA, Hutchings J (2007) Parenting programme for parents of children at risk of developing conduct disorder: cost effectiveness analysis. BMJ 334(7595):682

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Gallarin M, Alonso-Arbiol I (2012) Parenting practices, parental attachment and aggressiveness in adolescence: a predictive model. J Adolesc 35(6):1601–1610

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Marsiglio W, Roy K (2013) Fathers’ nurturance of children over the life course. In: Handbook of marriage and the family. Springer, Berlin, pp 353–376

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Yoon S, Bellamy JL, Kim W, Yoon D (2018) Father involvement and behavior problems among preadolescents at risk of maltreatment. J Child Fam Stud 27(2):494–504

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Lamb ME, Pleck JH, Charnov EL, Levine JA (1987) A biosocial perspective on paternal behavior and involvement. Parenting across the life span: Biosocial dimensions, New York, pp 111–142

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Anderson SA, Sabatelli RM (2007) Family interaction: a multigenerational developmental perspective. Pearson/A & B, New York

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Cabrera NJ, Fitzgerald HE, Bradley RH, Roggman L (2014) The ecology of father–child relationships: an expanded model. J Fam Theory Rev 6(4):336–354

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Nomaguchi K, Brown S, Leyman TM (2017) Fathers’ participation in parenting and maternal parenting stress: variation by relationship status. J Fam Issues 38(8):1132–1156

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Abidin RR (1990) Introduction to the special issue: the stresses of parenting. J Clin Child Psychol 19(4):298–301

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Abidin R (1995) Parent stress index. Psychological Assessment Resources, Odessa

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Deater-Deckard K, Scarr S (1996) Parenting stress among dual-earner mothers and fathers: are there gender differences? J Fam Psychol 10(1):45

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Coley RL, Schindler HS (2008) Biological fathers’ contributions to maternal and family functioning. Parenting 8(4):294–318

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Feldman R (2000) Parents’ convergence on sharing and marital satisfaction, father involvement, and parent–child relationship at the transition to parenthood. Infant Men Health J 21(3):176–191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Crnic KA, Gaze C, Hoffman C (2005) Cumulative parenting stress across the preschool period: relations to maternal parenting and child behaviour at age 5. Infant Child Development 14(2):117–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Maguire-Jack K, Wang X (2016) Pathways from neighborhood to neglect: the mediating effects of social support and parenting stress. Child Youth Serv Rev 66:28–34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Barry TD, Dunlap ST, Cotten SJ, Lochman JE, Wells KC (2005) The influence of maternal stress and distress on disruptive behavior problems in boys. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 44(3):265–273

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Anthony LG, Anthony BJ, Glanville DN, Naiman DQ, Waanders C, Shaffer S (2005) The relationships between parenting stress, parenting behaviour and preschoolers’ social competence and behaviour problems in the classroom. Infant Child Dev 14(2):133–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Feldman R, Eidelman AI, Rotenberg N (2004) Parenting stress, infant emotion regulation, maternal sensitivity, and the cognitive development of triplets: a model for parent and child influences in a unique ecology. Child Dev 75(6):1774–1791

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Bowlby J (2008) A secure base: parent–child attachment and healthy human development. Basic books, New York

  24. 24.

    Mikulincer M, Shaver PR (2012) An attachment perspective on psychopathology. World Psychiatry 11(1):11–15

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Yoon S, Yoon D, Wang X, Tebben E, Lee G, Pei F (2017) Co-development of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems during early childhood among child welfare-involved children. Child Youth Serv Rev 82:455–465

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Fearon R, Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ, Van IJzendoorn MH, Lapsley A, Roisman GI (2010) The significance of insecure attachment and disorganization in the development of children’s externalizing behavior: a meta-analytic study. Child Dev 81(2):435–456

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Theule J, Germain SM, Cheung K, Hurl KE, Markel C (2016) Conduct disorder/oppositional defiant disorder and attachment: a meta-analysis. J Dev Life Course Criminol 2(2):232–255

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Cassidy J (1994) Emotion regulation: influences of attachment relationships. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 59(2-3):228–249

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Zaremba LA, Keiley MK (2011) The mediational effect of affect regulation on the relationship between attachment and internalizing/externalizing behaviors in adolescent males who have sexually offended. Child Youth Serv Rev 33(9):1599–1607

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Taylor CA, Guterman NB, Lee SJ, Rathouz PJ (2009) Intimate partner violence, maternal stress, nativity, and risk for maternal maltreatment of young children. Am J Public Health 99(1):175–183

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Willinger U, Diendorfer-Radner G, Willnauer R, Jörgl G, Hager V (2005) Parenting stress and parental bonding. Behav Med 31(2):63–72

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Bandura A (1978) Social learning theory of aggression. J Commun 28(3):12–29

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Gershoff ET (2002) Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: a meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychol Bull 128(4):539

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Taylor CA, Manganello JA, Lee SJ, Rice JC (2010) Mothers’ spanking of 3-year-old children and subsequent risk of children’s aggressive behavior. Pediatrics 125(5):e1057–e1065

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Teisl M, Cicchetti D (2008) Physical abuse, cognitive and emotional processes, and aggressive/disruptive behavior problems. Soc Dev 17(1):1–23

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    U.S. Census Bureau (2017) Table C3. Living arrangements of children under 18 years and marital status of parents, by age, sex, race, and hispanic origin and selected characteristics of the child for all children: 2017. America’s Families and Living Arrangements. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2017/demo/families/cps-2017.html. Accessed 30 June 2018

  37. 37.

    Bowen NK, Guo S (2011) Structural equation modeling. Oxford University Press, Oxford

  38. 38.

    Yong AG, Pearce S (2013) A beginner’s guide to factor analysis: focusing on exploratory factor analysis. Tut Quan Methods Psychol 9(2):79–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Achenbach TM, Rescorla L (2001) ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families, Burlington

    Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Hofferth S, Davis-Kean PE, Davis J, Finkelstein J (1997) The child development supplement to the panel study of income dynamics: 1997 user guide. Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Waters E (1995) The attachment Q-Set (version 3.0). Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 60(2-3):234–246

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Straus MA, Hamby SL, Finkelhor D, Moore DW, Runyan D (1998) Identification of child maltreatment with the parent–child conflict tactics scales: development and psychometric data for a national sample of american parents. Child Abuse Negl 22(4):249–270

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Belsky J (1984) The determinants of parenting: a process model. Child Dev 55:83–96

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Muthén LK, Muthén BO (2006) Mplus version 7 user’s guide. Muthén & Muthén, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Cham H, Reshetnyak E, Rosenfeld B, Breitbart W (2017) Full information maximum likelihood estimation for latent variable interactions with incomplete indicators. Multivar Behav Res 52(1):12–30

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Lamb ME (2010) How do fathers influence children’s development? Let me count the ways. In: The role of the father in child development. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Lamb ME, Lewis C (2010) The development and significance of father–child relationships in two-parent families. In: The role of the father in child development. Wiley, New York, pp 94–153

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Leidy MS, Schofield TJ, Parke RD (2013) Fathers’ contributions to children’s social development. Handbook Father Involv 2:151–167

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Mincy R, Um H, Turpin J (2016) Effect of father engagement on child behaviors. In: Gender and couple relationships. Springer, Berlin, pp 41–159

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Flouri E, Buchanan A (2002) Father involvement in childhood and trouble with the police in adolescence: findings from the 1958 british cohort. J Interpers Violence 17(6):689–701

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Bronfenbrenner U (1979) The ecology of human development Cambridge. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp 1–64

    Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Bowen NK, Bowen GL, Ware WB (2002) Neighborhood social disorganization, families, and the educational behavior of adolescents. J Adolesc Res 17(5):468–490

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Crawford TN, Shaver PR, Cohen P, Pilkonis PA, Gillath O, Kasen S (2006) Self-reported attachment, interpersonal aggression, and personality disorder in a prospective community sample of adolescents and adults. J Personal Disord 20(4):331–351

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Barratt ES, Stanford MS, Dowdy L, Liebman MJ, Kent TA (1999) Impulsive and premeditated aggression: a factor analysis of self-reported acts. Psychiatry Res 86(2):163–173

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Reichman NE, Teitler JO, Garfinkel I, McLanahan SS (2001) Fragile families: sample and design. Child Youth Serv Rev 23(4–5):303–326

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Williford AP, Calkins SD, Keane SP (2007) Predicting change in parenting stress across early childhood: child and maternal factors. J Abnorm Child Psychol 35(2):251–263

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Bavolek SJ (2002) Research and validation report of the nurturing parenting programs, 2003. p 16

  58. 58.

    Sanders MR (1999) Triple P-positive parenting program: towards an empirically validated multilevel parenting and family support strategy for the prevention of behavior and emotional problems in children. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 2(2):71–90

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

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.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xiafei Wang.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

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

Ethical Approval

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.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-018-00866-1

Download citation

Keywords

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