A Summary of "Fathers' involvement and children's developmental outcomes: a systematic review of longitudinal studies" by Sarkadi et al (2007)
With research continuing to evolve, we find it essential to highlight interesting and exciting findings. Many studies have begun to explore the important connection between fathers and their children, focusing on the impact that father's involvement have on their children's outcomes. A number of these studies look at the child's behavioral, cognitive, social, and psychological outcomes and how this relates to the child's development and welfare.
This organized review of 24 publications was used to look at several key aspects of father involvement; including cohabitation, engagement, and responsibility. Twenty-two of these publications described positive effects of father involvement, including both biological fathers and father figures. Data collected regarding father involvement was produced one year prior to measuring the child's outcomes and was drawn from 16 longitudinal studies controlling for socio-economic status and 11 looked at the study population as a whole.
Findings illustrate that "there is certain evidence that cohabitation with the mother and her male partner is associated with less externalizing behavioral problems. Active and regular engagement with the child predicts a range of positive outcomes, although no specific form of engagement has been shown to yield better outcomes than another. Father engagement seems to have differential effects on desirable outcomes by reducing the frequency of behavioral problems in boys and psychological problems in young women, and enhancing cognitive development, while decreasing delinquency and economic disadvantage in low SES families"(Sarkadi, 2007).
Although many of the studies did produce effects, it was found that cohabitation from infancy to age three did not appear to affect cognitive development in socio-economically disadvantaged families in the U.S. In the studies not controlling for SES, general positive effects of father involvement on child outcomes were found in the study population.
As the studies in this review show, evidence has been found to support that father engagement does have a positive influence on the child's behavioral, social, and psychological outcomes. "Although the literature only provides sufficient basis for engagement (direct interaction with the child) as the specific form of "effective" father involvement, there is enough support to urge both professionals and policy makers to improve circumstances for involved fathering" (Sarkardi, 2007).
Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2007). Fathers' involvement and children's developmental outcomes: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Paediatrica, 97(2), 153-158.