The role of father parenting in children's school readiness: A longitudinal follow-up

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Mother autonomy support has been shown to predict child executive function (EF) and school readiness; however, little is known about the influence of father parenting on these child outcomes. The current study is a longitudinal follow-up examining the bidirectional relations between father parenting and child EF/school readiness across the preschool period. Eighty-nine father-child dyads participated at 2 time points (mean child ages of 38 and 58 months). The first time point was described in a previous article by Meuwissen and Carlson (2015). At the second time point, we observed fathers' autonomy support in a dyadic puzzle task and quality of parenting during free play in an indoor playground. School readiness included a battery of EF, literacy, and math measures. We found that father autonomy support at Time 1 predicted child school readiness at Time 2, mediated by child language at Time 1. Additionally, child EF at Time 1 inversely predicted father overstimulation during play at Time 2, mediated by father control at Time 1 and child school readiness at Time 2. These results indicate that the relationship of father autonomy support to child EF is similar to what has been found with mothers and that physical play may be an important context for father influence on child outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-598
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Psychological Association.


  • Autonomy support
  • Executive function
  • Fathers
  • Play
  • School readiness


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