The majority of parenting research focuses on the role of the mother, but how important is a father''s involvement in their children''s development? A study has found that although a greater involvement of the father was associated with positive child development, it can be difficult to involve fathers in rural Kenyan communities.
The importance of childhood is a critical part of each individual''s development, and parenting and home environment are all crucial factors. Though the majority of households do have a father, parenting research and intervention strategies have focused on mothers.
The gap between parents and children in low- and middle-income countries has widened. In high-income countries, the father''s role has steadily increased, which is beneficial for young children by assisting their development. This study aims to examine how father involvement is applied in low-income countries.
Italo Lopez Garcia, a research author, and colleagues used data from 1,070 mothers and 635 fathers across 60 villages in rural Kenya as part of a ten-day conversation on responsive parenting that was implemented in 2018 and 2019. Due to high migration, fathers were permitted to be interviewed by phone or at a different time than mothers, who were the first point of contact.
Both fathers and mothers completed research on the father''s involvement with the child and their families. Mothers completed research on maternal wellbeing, including depression and stress. Maternal behaviors were also assessed by self-report and observation. Child development outcomes were also assessed.
According to studies, the parenting exercise did not significantly impact father-reported involvement. Additionally, only half of fathers who attended the sessions participated in the fathers only group rather than the ones including their wives and children. Fathers who attended sessions also had increased engagement with their children and increased support to the child''s mother, although it did not have an association with decisionmaking.
The parents'' assistance to the mother (such as praising them or performing household chores) was associated with improved child development and improved health in the mothers. The majority of the positive effects for the children attributed to the fathers'' support are explained by the mother''s tendency to have a higher level of involvement.
Researchers claim that greater father interpersonal support offered to the mother and greater participation in shared household decisions are linked to small but significant improvements in the child''s development.
Although this study has undertaken a lot to improve understanding father involvements on children in low-income settings, it also has its limitations. One such limitation is that due to the nature of correlational data, causation cannot be assumed, and reverse causation cannot be excluded. Additionally, the sample had a limited number of involved fathers, which makes it difficult to say if that group was accurately represented.
Conclusions show that fathers are vital for family and child wellbeing in [low- and middle-income] settings, and parenting interventions that successfully engage fathers in positive intrahousehold interactions might greatly benefit from testing such interventions in similar low-resource settings.
Italo Lopez Garcia, Lia C. H. Fernald, Frances E. Aboud, Ronald Otieno, Edith Alu, and Jill E. Luoto contributed to the study, which emphasizes Father involvement and early child development in a low-resource setting.