Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

September 1993


Published in Journal of Family Issues 14:3 (September 1993), pp. 355–377. Copyright © 1993 Sage Publications, Inc., on behalf of National Council on Family Relations. Used by permission.


The impact of fathers on the development and well-being of their children has been the focus of much recent research and debate (e.g., Furstenberg, 1988; Hawkins & Eggebeen, 1991; Lamb, 1987). Traditionally, fathers have been assumed to play an important role in the socialization of their children and, consequently, father-absence has been hypothesized to result in a variety of cognitive and psychosocial vulnerabilities. The need to understand the influence of fathers becomes especially acute at a time when high rates of divorce and nonmarital childbearing lead to the prediction that the majority of children will experience some period of father-absence (Bumpass, 1984; Bumpass & Sweet, 1989).