Children and Their Teen Fathers: Examining the Associations of Prenatal and Birth Behaviors in the ECLS-B
Allison K.H. Tarkow, University of Maryland
Natasha Cabrera, University of Maryland
The current study examines teen fathers of a nationally representative birth cohort of children and their behaviors prior to the child’s birth, at birth, when the child was 9-months-old, and how these behaviors are associated with children’s cognitive development. Residential fathers were highly involved during the pregnancy even though only half wanted the baby, accessible at 9 months, and engaged in literacy, caregiving, and physical play with their infants. However, fathers’ involvement before or during birth and at 9 months did not predict children’s development. Yet, other parent characteristics, particularly fathers' attitudes, were significant factors for birth behaviors, later involvement, and children’s outcomes emphasizing familial characteristics and context. These findings have important implications for research on the determinants of father involvement and pathways by which it leads to positive outcomes for children as well as for programs that aim at helping teen fathers’ and mothers’ parenting.