Predictors of Father-child Relationship Quality Among Adolescents at Risk of Maltreatment

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Graduate School of Social Work


Objective: At-risk youth benefit from supportive, high-quality relationships with fathers and father figures, but relatively little is known about the factors that influence the quality of these relationships. Accordingly, this study aims to identify predictors and examine moderating effects of father type, father involvement, and exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) on the quality of father–child relationships. Method: We conducted generalized estimating equations using a sample (N = 422) of 12-year-olds from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect data set. Results: Adolescents living with a biological father reported significantly higher quality father–child relationships than those living with a nonbiological father. Greater father involvement was associated with higher quality father–child relationships. The positive association between father involvement and father–child relationship quality was significantly stronger for adolescents living with a nonbiological father. Additionally, exposure to IPV was negatively related to father–child relationship quality for nonbiological fathers, but not for biological fathers. Conclusions: Findings indicate the need to offer more specialized interventions and programs to support co-residing nonbiological fathers’ unique challenges in building high-quality relationships with nonbiological children.

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