Date of Award
Graduate School of Social Work
Jennifer L. Bellamy
Eugene N. Walls
Kimberly A. Bender
ACEs, Adverse childhood experiences, Childhood trauma, Father involvement, Fathering
Background: Childhood trauma has a direct impact on parenting. Parents with a history of adverse childhood experiences are more likely to struggle with mental illness in adulthood and have children at an augmented risk for behavioral health issues. However, most of this work has focused on mothers, and few studies have explored how adverse childhood experiences influence paternal warmth and father involvement. Research on fathering has identified personal (e.g., age, race, income, parental stress, depression, and anxiety) and social (e.g., residential and relationship status, co-parenting) predictors of paternal warmth and father involvement. While poor physical health may influence parenting behaviors, such as support, reinforcement, and discipline, little is known about how physical health affects paternal warmth. Research has also found that discrimination can compound adverse childhood experiences and influence parenting. This study seeks to address gaps in the literature by utilizing an intersectional approach to examine the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and fathering, with a specific focus on paternal warmth. This study examines the three following research questions to understand the relationship between childhood trauma, racial identity, and paternal warmth: (1) is childhood trauma (as measured by adverse childhood experiences) associated with paternal warmth?, (2) is there a difference in the relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth based on racial identity?, and (3) is the relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth mediated by paternal depression (as measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale), paternal anxiety (as measured by the Beck Anxiety Inventory), or physical health?
Methods: This study utilized cross-sectional national data to conduct a secondary data analysis. The data were drawn from the Survey of Contemporary Fatherhood which were collected through Brigham Young University’s Men’s Studies Research Lab, and was comprised of roughly 2,300 fathers, stepfathers, and father figures. Logistic regression was utilized to determine if there was a relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth. Moderation analysis was utilized to determine if racial identity moderated the relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth. Finally, path analysis was conducted to determine if depression, anxiety, and physical health mediated the relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth.
Results: Multivariate results from this study indicated that there was an association between adverse childhood experiences and paternal warmth for fathers with children between the ages of 9 and 18, although this relationship was not a simple linear association. The multivariate model employed to test fathers with children between the ages of 2 and 8 and the multivariate model employed to test fathers as a combined group (both those with younger children and those with older children) did not meet model fit parameters. Additionally, the moderation models employed to test if racial identity moderated the relationship between ACEs and paternal warmth did not meet model fit parameters. As a result, no determination could be made as to whether or not racial identity was a moderator in the relationship between ACEs and paternal warmth. Furthermore, goodness of fit statistics used to test the path analysis model indicated that the data did not adequately fit the model hypothesized in this study. Consequently, no determination could be made as to whether or not depression, anxiety, or physical health mediated the relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth.
Conclusion: The findings from this study on the relationship between childhood trauma and paternal warmth highlight the need for social workers and other human service professionals to better understand how childhood trauma impacts fathering and to support their clients in identifying and addressing the negative impacts of trauma.
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Stephanie Rachel Speer
Received from ProQuest
Speer, Stephanie Rachel, "Exploring the Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Paternal Warmth: Does Racial Identity Moderate this Relationship and Does Depression, Anxiety, and Physical Health Mediate this Relationship?" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2004.