Father involvement in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood
This study was concerned with the nature and extent of father involvement during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. The aims were: (1) to identify and describe the nature and extent of father involvement at this time; (2) to examine the relationship between the various components of involvement, and (3) to assess the relationship between father involvement and certain factors which may affect their level of involvement. Forty first-time fathers were interviewed during the third month post-partum about their involvement during pregnancy, birth and the first two months of parenthood. Overall, a wide degree of variation was found for each of the components of involvement investigated. Throughout the peri-natal period most fathers were highly involved at the affective level and in social components such as play. Father involvement in child care was weighted in the low direction, as was their involvement in preparations, antenatal care and post-natal services. Only a small number of statistically significant intercorrelations were found between components of involvement. Therefore, father involvement in one area did not predict involvement in other areas. Also fathers were not involved consistently high or low across components. Levels of involvement were not related to social class, father's age, father's work hours, time fathers spent with their children, or infant's gender. Therefore a further factor was chosen for investigation through a second study. The most strongly supported factor in the literature, which may account for the variation found, was family network connectedness. In a second study, 35 fathers and their wives were interviewed. Twenty fathers were from close-knit families and 15 were from loose-knit families. A comparison of study I and study II findings showed a high degree of similarity. On the basis of previous sociological studies it was hypothesised that fathers from loose-knit families would be more involved than fathers from close-knit families. The hypothesis was supported for some components but not others. A profile of father involvement today was drawn and discussed in relation to past views on the role of the father. Suggestions for future research are discussed, as are the implications of the findings for social policy.