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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FOUNDATION, THE
Doing Business As Name:Ohio State University Research Foundation -DO NOT USE
PD/PI:
  • Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan
  • (614) 292-3732
  • schoppe-sullivan.1@osu.edu
Award Date:02/22/2008
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 399,999
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 399,999
  • FY 2010=$88,188
  • FY 2011=$90,450
  • FY 2009=$96,420
  • FY 2008=$62,181
  • FY 2012=$62,760
Start Date:03/01/2008
End Date:02/28/2014
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.075
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER: Maternal Gatekeeping and Fathering Behavior Across the Transition to Parenthood
Federal Award ID Number:0746548
DUNS ID:071650709
Program:DEVELOP& LEARNING SCIENCES/CRI
Program Officer:
  • Laura Namy
  • (703) 292-7305
  • lnamy@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:1960 KENNY RD
City:Columbus
State:OH
ZIP:43210-1016
County:Columbus
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Ohio State University
Street:Office of Sponsored Programs
City:Columbus
State:OH
ZIP:43210-1016
County:Columbus
Country:US
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

Recent research has confirmed what scholars and laypeople have long suspected - that fathers play a critical role in young children's development. But, even though our society has placed increased emphasis on fathers' active involvement with their young children, fathers continue to spend less time than mothers caring for children. Furthermore, there are vast differences among fathers in their levels of involvement. Some fathers are highly involved with their children whereas others are not, and researchers have been unable to agree on the reasons for these differences. Without understanding why these differences between fathers exist, it is difficult to design effective education and intervention programs to promote greater father involvement. Some have proposed that mothers, because of their typical roles as primary caregivers, play an important role in encouraging or discouraging fathers' involvement with their young children, a process called maternal gatekeeping. However, little research exists to back up that claim. Thus, this study will examine the roles of mothers and fathers in the development of fathering behavior over the transition to parenthood. With the support of this NSF CAREER award, Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan will study 170 dual-earner couples who are expecting their first child. Couples will be surveyed, interviewed, and observed interacting together prior to their child's birth. At 3, 6, and 9 months postpartum, these new parents will again be surveyed, interviewed, and observed interacting together with their infants. The primary goals of this study are to (a) determine whether mothers' encouraging or discouraging behavior toward fathers is a likely influence on fathers' involvement with their infant children, (b) investigate factors that may explain why some mothers encourage fathers whereas others actively discourage them, and (c) increase understanding of the processes through which mothers' behavior towards fathers may affect fathering behavior. In addition to contributing to knowledge about the factors that affect fathering behavior, this project will also further the education of community members as well as undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan and her team will conduct several educational activities made possible through a partnership between The Ohio State University and the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), a renowned science museum in Columbus, Ohio. First, Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan and her team will work to establish a long-term relationship between study families and COSI by providing complimentary COSI memberships to participating families and collecting data from families at COSI. Second, Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan and her team will create a new component about mothers' and fathers' parental roles for a parenting program for new fathers that COSI will host (Boot Camp for New Dads). Third, Dr. Schoppe-Sullivan will work with undergraduate and graduate students within the context of a new Research Methods course to make study and related research findings accessible to families through the creation of informational posters displayed at COSI and presentations for families during COSI's Family Friday Nights program.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Kotila, L. E., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. "Time in parenting activities in dual-earner families at the transition to parenthood." Family Relations, v.62, 2013, p.795. doi:10.1111/fare.12037 

Kotila, L. E., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. "Boy or girl? Maternal psychological correlates of knowing fetal sex." Personality and Individual Differences, v.68, 2014, p.195. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.009 

Lee, M. A., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. "Parenting perfectionism and parental adjustment." Personality and Individual Differences, v.52, 2012, p.454-457.

Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Kotila, L. E. "Daily parenting engagement among new mothers and fathers: The role of romantic attachment in dual-earner families." Journal of Family Psychology, v.27, 2013, p.862. doi:10.1037/a0034510 

Lee, M. A., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. "Parenting perfectionism and parental adjustment." Personality and Individual Differences, v.52, 2012, p.454. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.047 

Bartholomew, M. K., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Glassman, M., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Sullivan, J. M. "New parents? Facebook use at the transition to parenthood." Family Relations, v.61, 2012, p.455. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012.00708.x 

Zvara, B. J., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. "Fathers' involvement in child health care: Associations with prenatal involvement, parents' beliefs, and maternal gatekeeping." Family Relations, v.62, 2013, p.649-661. doi:10.1111/fare.12023 

Bartholomew, M. K., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Glassman, M., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Sullivan, J. M. "New parents? Facebook use at the transition to parenthood." Family Relations, v.61, 2012, p.455-469.

Lee, M. A., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. "Parenting Perfectionism and Parental Adjustment" Personality and Individual Differences, v., 2011, p.. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.047 


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The central purpose of this study was to figure out why some fathers are more directly involved in parenting their young children than other fathers, and to determine what impact fathers’ involvement with their young children has on their development. We were especially interested in studying the roles of mothers in father-child relationships, as previous studies and scientific thinking suggest that how involved fathers are with their children may depend a great deal on how supportive mothers are of father involvement in parenting.

In order to study this, we recruited a sample of 182 couples – all male-female, 86% married – that were expecting their first child in 2008-2009. We focused specifically on couples in which both parents expected to work outside the home after their child’s birth because we thought the demand for father involvement in parenting would be greater in these families. We studied these couples first before their babies were born – in the third trimester of pregnancy – by surveying them, interviewing them, and observing them interacting together in a couple problem-solving discussion and role-play with a doll that represented the baby. Then, after their babies were born, we gathered more information on these new families at 3, 6, and 9 months after the birth. We surveyed and interviewed parents on their involvement in parenting and adjustment to parenthood, and also observed them interacting with their babies one-one-one and together as a family to determine the quality of their parent-child and family relationships.

We have been using all of the information we gathered on these families to address important questions about the roles of fathers in contemporary families, what influences father involvement in parenting, and what effects father involvement in parenting may have on children’s development.

The main findings of the New Parents Project include the following:

(1) Mothers are still much more involved than fathers in parenting young children, even in contemporary families in which both parents work outside the home.

(2) Fathers’ as well as mothers’ involvement in appropriate activities with infants (e.g., singing, holding, reading, talking, playing) fosters children’s positive development.             

(3) Mothers are more supportive of fathers’ involvement in parenting when they have reasonable expectations of fathers’ parenting and more moderate levels of confidence in their own parenting. Mothers are also more supportive of fathers’ involvement in parenting when they have better mental health, are more confident in their romantic relationship with the father, and when they are more religious.

(4) Fathers’ confidence in their ability to parent goes down after they actually experience parenthood, although it rebounds a few months later. Mothers’ confidence in their parenting stays fairly stable across the transition to parenthood. Fathers with more initial confidence in parenting seem to get more support from mothers for their involvement in parenting, and this support from mothers in turn fosters fathers’ continued involvement in parenting and more positive views of family relationships.

(5) Mothers’ support of fathers’ parenting is especially important for fathers with more traditional views of men’s and women’s roles in families. If these men do not have mothers’ confidence and support, they are at risk for being less involved in parenting their young children.

We have also worked to ensure that the New Parents Project has an impact beyond publications in scientific journals and presentations at professional conferences. For the families in the study, we were able to provide them with ...

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