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The Unique Effects of Fathers’ Warmth on Adolescents’ Positive Beliefs and Behaviors: Pathways to Resilience in Low-Income Families

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to investigate the pathways through which fathers’ warmth influences adolescents’ grades. We investigated the positive beliefs of optimism and academic self-efficacy, and the motivational construct of determination, as possible mediators. Questionnaire data were collected from a sample of 183 sixth-graders (78 male, 105 female) from low-income families: 133 Mexican Americans, 36 African Americans, 11 European Americans, and 3 other ethnicity. Multigroup SEM path analysis was used to test two path models and investigate variations in these models by adolescents’ gender. Results revealed that, controlling for mothers’ warmth, fathers’ warmth predicts adolescents’ positive beliefs and that these relations vary by adolescents’ gender. For male adolescents, relations between fathers’ warmth and English language arts grades are mediated by academic self-efficacy and determination to persist on challenging schoolwork. For female adolescents, relations between fathers’ warmth and math grades are mediated by optimism and determination. These results demonstrate the unique contributions of fathers’ warmth to their sons’ and daughters’ emotional and academic development. Our study suggests that counselors and educators may positively influence adolescents’ well-being by encouraging fathers to communicate warmth and acceptance to their adolescents.

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Acknowledgments

The present study was funded by a grant from The Spencer Foundation [Grant # 200800101]. Preliminary and partial results of this study were presented at the 2012 biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Vancouver, BC, Canada. We acknowledge the cooperation and generosity of the Austin Independent School District, and various middle school administrators, teachers, students, and their parents.

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Correspondence to Marie-Anne Suizzo.

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Suizzo, MA., Rackley, K.R., Robbins, P.A. et al. The Unique Effects of Fathers’ Warmth on Adolescents’ Positive Beliefs and Behaviors: Pathways to Resilience in Low-Income Families. Sex Roles 77, 46–58 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0696-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0696-9

Keywords

  • Academic achievement motivation
  • Academic self-concept
  • Adolescents
  • African Americans
  • Mexican Americans
  • Emotional well-being
  • Father-child relations
  • Human gender differences
  • Optimism
  • Parental involvement
  • Path analysis
  • Self-efficacy
  • Gender role attitudes