Date of this Version
Published in Journal of Marriage and Family 81 (June 2019): 662–678
Objective: This study examined how parental caregiving and parent–child closeness are associated with future fathering among 335 Filipino men who are participants in a long-running birth cohort study.
Background Few studies have multidecade longitudinal data to test the pathways through which parenting is transmitted across generations, with most relevant research conducted in the United States, Europe, and other similar settings. The roles of mothers and fathers in shaping their sons’ future parenting is particularly understudied despite fathers having the potential to positively influence child health and development.
Method: Participants’ mothers (Generation 1 [G1]) reported on caregiving during Generation 2 (G2) participants’ early life, and the G2 males reported parent–child closeness during adolescence. G2 fathers reported on their own child-care involvement and the salience of care- giving to their parenting identity. We tested whether parent–child closeness moderated the effect of early-life care to predict later-life fathering.
Results: G1-G2 closeness moderated the association between G1 parents’ caregiving and G2 fathers’ parenting identity (for both G1 parents) and caregiving time (for G1 fathers only). When the G1-G2 mother–son relationship was not close, there was a negative correlation between G1 maternal care and G2 fathers’ caregiving identity. For G2 men who were close to their fathers, there were positive associations between G1 paternal care and G2 fathers’ caregiving identity and time, respectively. Among G2 men who were not close to their fathers, the slopes relating G1 paternal care to G2 fathers’ care- giving identity and time, respectively, were negative.
Conclusion: These findings reflect that developmental experiences with both mothers and fathers are predictive of men’s identity as parents in adulthood and that closeness between fathers and sons moderates whether sons’ paternal care tends to emulate or diverge from their fathers’ caregiving patterns.