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Moms’ Encouragement Matters to Dads, Research Says

Author John Thompson
Submitted 03-06-2008

Fathers who receive encouragement from their partners are more likely to get involved in day-to-day childcare than those who face criticism, a new study reveals.

Researchers at Ohio State University interviewed 97 sets of parents-to-be about their beliefs regarding fathers as caregivers.

Then, once the babies were born, they followed up by tracking mothers’ reactions to their partners’ parenting behaviors, logging how many hours each parent spends with their child and videotaping their familial interaction.

In addition to the conclusion that supportive mothers lead to more involved fathers, the study discovered that even dads who intended to play an active role in childcare did not do so if their partner was judgmental.

The team said this was the first piece of research to focus on the level of encouragement given by moms as a factor in a father’s engagement in childcare.

“Mothers can be very encouraging to fathers, and open the gate to their involvement in childcare or be very critical and close the gate,” commented Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study.

Previous research published in the journal Family Process found that men who valued their partners’ household contributions were more likely to take an active role when raising children.