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Citation:Jayakody, R., & Kalil, A.(2002). Social fathering in low-income, African American families with preschool children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64(2), 504-516.

The purpose of this study is to examine the role of social fathers (a male who demonstrates parental behaviors and is like a father to the child) on cognitive and emotional development of preschool children. Findings suggest that whether a child had a social father depended in part on the level of involvement of his/her biological father. The impact of a social father was dependent of what type of social father the child has. A male relative social father was associated with higher levels of school readiness. However, once home environment was accounted for this relationship is no longer significant. This suggests that a male relative social fatherÕs positive influence is primarily due to his contribution to the home environment. Children who had a social father who was their motherÕs romantic partner had significantly lower levels of personal maturity. Information was collected about the mother (resources), child (demographics), and biological father (demographics and role). Fifty-one% of the children in the study had a social father. Most often the social father was the mother's current partner (31.6%), while other times the social father was a male relative (19.6%). Children were classified into one of three groups: a) no social father, b) social father present (mother's romantic partner), or c) social father present (other than mother's partner). The data for this study came from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-work strategies data which looked at mothers in the JOBS program who had a child between 3 and 5 years old. The total sample size was 790 adults, most of whom were African American, low-income, and single. Limitations of this study include a lack information about the quantity and quality of the relationship between child and social father. In addition it focused only on low-income African American families and only examined one age group. The authors state that policy makers currently emphasize biological fathers and they make the case that policymakers should also look at other men who are important in a childÕs life.

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