This longitudinal study of Australian families (n 1,884, from age 6 –12) examined how fathers’ and mothers’ quantitative involvement (time spent on childcare) and qualitative involvement (specific parenting behaviors) relate to children’s emotional adjustment development. We used dynamic structural equation modeling to disentangle stable between-family differences from within-family fluctuations in qualitative parenting and emotional adjustment, allowing us to investigate the direction of effects between parents and children. Because fathers have been theorized to contribute uniquely to emotional adjustment development, we examined differences between mothers and fathers and the interplay between parent and child sex. We further examined whether between-family differences in quantitative involvement, operationalized as joint (total) and relative (one parent does more) involvement, predict qualitative parenting behaviors and emotional adjustment and moderate the within-family interplay between them. Results revealed between-family correlations of qualitative involvement with emotional adjustment. Evidence for significant average within-family effects was limited to a parenting effect of maternal warmth, and several child effects, which indicated that emotional adjustment evokes changes in parenting. However, parenting effects varied substantially across families, especially for fathers. Between-family differences in quantitative involvement explained some of these differences. When joint quantitative involvement was higher, both parents engaged in more desirable qualitative parenting. When mothers were relatively more involved than fathers, fathers displayed less desirable qualitative parenting, and children were less well adjusted. There was some limited evidence that within-family predictive effects were moderated by quantitative involvement, particularly relative involvement. These findings suggest that all family members benefit from a more equal childcare distribution.

, , , ,,
Developmental Psychology
Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

van Lissa, C.J, & Keizer, R. (2020). Mothers' and fathers' quantitative and qualitative parenting in relation to children's emotional adjustment: A between- and within-family investigation. Developmental Psychology, 1709–1722. doi:10.1037/dev0001042