2012 Research Conference Program Overview

Program Overview

Fathers play a critical role in child development, and fathering behaviors are also linked to men’s well-being. Additionally, father involvement has implications for mothers and mothering as well as union quality and stability. The contributions of fathers to children’s lives can vary considerably by factors such as family structure and co-residence. As larger shares of children are born to unmarried single or cohabiting mothers or experience their parents’ marriage dissolve, father involvement with their children is more complex. For a growing share of children, paternal incarceration shapes the fathering experience. Recent estimates indicate roughly one-quarter of African American children will experience parental imprisonment during childhood. The short- and long-term consequences of parental incarceration for fathering behaviors and child well-being are not fully understood. Furthermore, the economic pressures on families have grown. The diversity characterizing today’s fathers coupled with the heterogeneity in contemporary fathering behaviors make research on fathers and fathering particularly timely.

The goal of this conference is to move forward our understanding of fathers and fathering in contemporary contexts and examine their linkages to well-being. The panel of interdisciplinary researchers will discuss cutting edge topics on fatherhood and fathering by sharing new theoretical, empirical, methodological, and measurement insights. The speakers will be sensitive to potential variation among subgroups of the population and recognize the increasing diversity and complexity of today’s families. Further, researchers will address how their work informs current policy debates. Family life is more varied and less stable than in the past, and the uncertainty facing families today is magnified by the economic downturn. Indeed, the challenge is for policy analysts and social scientists to keep up with these shifts in the contemporary family landscape and to decipher their consequences for health and well-being of America’s children and families.

Updated: 01/29/2020 11:07AM