Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 2678–2689 | Cite as

Associations Between Maternal Gatekeeping and Fathers’ Parenting Quality

  • Lauren E. Altenburger
  • Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan
  • Claire M. Kamp Dush
Original Paper


High-quality father involvement in childrearing is associated with positive child outcomes. Yet, variability between fathers in parenting quality remains. The present study examined associations between maternal gatekeeping and fathers’ observed parenting quality in 182 dual-earner families who transitioned to parenthood in 2008–2009. Maternal gatekeeping, or beliefs and behaviors that may serve to discourage (gate close) or encourage (gate open) father involvement in childrearing, was measured using fathers’ reports at 3- and 9-months postpartum. Fathers’ parenting quality was assessed during a brief observational task at 3- and 9-months postpartum. A cross-lagged structural equation model, which included repeated measures of maternal gate closing, gate opening, and fathers’ parenting quality (i.e., sensitivity, detachment, and positive regard) at 3- and 9-months postpartum, revealed associations between maternal gatekeeping and fathers’ parenting quality. In particular, fathers who experienced greater gate closing at 3-months postpartum showed greater relative declines in parenting quality at 9-months postpartum. Of note, maternal gate opening at 3-months postpartum was not associated with fathers’ parenting quality at 9-months postpartum. Additionally, paths from fathers’ parenting quality at 3-months postpartum to maternal gatekeeping at 9-months postpartum were not significant. This is the first study to examine longitudinal associations between maternal gatekeeping and fathers’ parenting quality.


Maternal gatekeeping Coparenting Father involvement Parenting quality 



This paper and its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NSF, NICHD, or The Ohio State University. The New Parents Project was funded by the National Science Foundation (CAREER 0746548, Schoppe-Sullivan), with additional support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD; 1K01HD056238, Kamp Dush), and The Ohio State University’s Institute for Population Research (NICHD R24HD058484) and program in Human Development and Family Science.

Author Contributions

LEA: designed and executed the study, analyzed the data, and took the lead role on writing the manuscript. SJS: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. CKD: collaborated in editing the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of The Ohio State University Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren E. Altenburger
    • 1
  • Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan
    • 1
  • Claire M. Kamp Dush
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human SciencesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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