Fathers matter: The role of father parenting in preschoolers' executive function development

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Although previous work has shown that mothers' parenting influences the development of child executive function (EF; important self-control skills developed during the preschool years), the role of fathers' parenting has not been thoroughly investigated. We observed fathers' autonomy support and control in dyadic play with their 3-year-old children (N pairs=110) and measured father and child EF independently with laboratory tasks. We found that fathers' controlling parenting was significantly inversely related to the child EF composite, above and beyond family income and child verbal ability. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that fathers are important for the development of EF in their children and suggest that fathers should be included in both research and parenting interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Training Grant ( 5T32MH015755 ). The authors thank research assistants Danielle Spizzirri and Stacy Paquette and thank laboratory staff members Cathy Schafer and Josh Harrod. Thanks also go to all of the families who participated in this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Autonomy support
  • Control
  • Executive function
  • Fathers
  • Parenting
  • Preschool


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