The effect of father involvement on child sexual decision making


Haldane, Eva Cherie (2018). The effect of father involvement on child sexual decision making.


Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), this dissertation explores whether fathers talking to their children about dating affects the odds of their children having unprotected sex when they are emerging adults. Logistic regressions were used to analyze the relationship between one measure of father engagement, talking to the child about dating, and sexual risk taking, operationalized as having unprotected sex. Utilizing social capital theory and Lamb, Pleck, Charnov and Levine’s (1985, 1987) conceptualization of fatherhood, this paper explored the possibility that father involvement could either increase or decrease child’s sexual risk. Results from the first model indicate that talking to the father about dating increases the odds of children having unprotected sex. The results also showed that feeling close to the father was not a moderator. The second model investigated if there is a difference in the effect of father involvement by gender. Talking to the father about dating increased the odds of nonresident daughters and resident sons having unprotected sex. Feeling close to the father was not a moderator. The third model explored if there was a difference in the effects of father involvement by race and did find a difference. White resident children had increased odds of having unprotected sex if they talked to their fathers about dating. Feeling close to the father was not a moderator in this chapter. These results challenge the prominent narrative in the literature that father involvement is an unmitigated good influence in the child’s life; instead, these results show that for some children father involvement can create more harm than good. It is important to note that most fathers did not talk to their children about dating and that the specific content and tone of the conversations these fathers had with their children is unknown. There is space in the literature to explore how specific messages fathers give their children influence their sexual risk decisions in the future. There is also space for the creation of feminist focused fatherhood programs to help fathers talk to their children about dating and sex in a way that reduces child risk taking when they are older.



Social service Social capital (Sociology) Teenagers--Sexual behavior Father and child Education--Parent participation

Reference Type


Book Title

Social work


Haldane, Eva Cherie

Series Author(s)

Mincy, Ronald B.

Year Published


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Columbia University



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