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Modern fatherhood and its consequences on psychobiological well-being


Waldvogel, P; Ehlert, Ulrike (2015). Modern fatherhood and its consequences on psychobiological well-being. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 78(6):630.

Abstract

Background: Today active involvement of the father in child rearing is taken for granted. For the father, the adaption to the new role during the transition to fatherhood leads to psychosocial consequences such as an elevated stress level, risk for psychopathology or a decrease in parental relationship quality. The other way round, mental health of the father has a significant influence on parental relationship quality and child development. Aside from psychosocial aspects (e.g. socio-economic status, personality traits, stress load), biological correlates, such as stress and male sexual hormones, interrelate with the adoption of the paternal role and thus might influence mental and physical health status of the father and satisfaction with the father role. As a consequence of modern family constellations, paternal care is not limited to the fathers' genetic offspring. Instead, in the form of step-, adoptive or foster fathers, men also invest in non-genetic offspring. While it is known that children coming from complex, non-traditional family models show a higher vulnerability for poor mental health, consequences on paternal health and well-being are relatively unknown. The goal of this study therefore is to investigate the consequences of modern fatherhood on paternal stress level, mental health and well-being.

Method: 3207 fathers, stepfathers, adoptive fathers and foster fathers of all age groups from the German-speaking part of Europe participated in a broad online survey on psychosocial conditions and costs of fatherhood across lifespan. Amongst other parameters, subjective chronic stress, psychological well-being and life satisfaction were assessed. In addition, biological parameters (cortisol, testosterone) were measured on a sub-sample (N = 428) of these fathers by collecting saliva samples.

Results: Preliminary results show a significant impairment of mental health and general life satisfaction in fathers with complex family constellations compared to fathers living in a traditional father–mother–child family model. Beneath differences in socioeconomic status, part of this result can be explained by the lack of a steady relationship in this group of fathers. Hormonal correlates will be presented at the conference.

Conclusion: The additional stress load for fathers due to complex family constellations might represent a possible risk factor for higher vulnerability of children living in some types of contemporary family constellations.

Background: Today active involvement of the father in child rearing is taken for granted. For the father, the adaption to the new role during the transition to fatherhood leads to psychosocial consequences such as an elevated stress level, risk for psychopathology or a decrease in parental relationship quality. The other way round, mental health of the father has a significant influence on parental relationship quality and child development. Aside from psychosocial aspects (e.g. socio-economic status, personality traits, stress load), biological correlates, such as stress and male sexual hormones, interrelate with the adoption of the paternal role and thus might influence mental and physical health status of the father and satisfaction with the father role. As a consequence of modern family constellations, paternal care is not limited to the fathers' genetic offspring. Instead, in the form of step-, adoptive or foster fathers, men also invest in non-genetic offspring. While it is known that children coming from complex, non-traditional family models show a higher vulnerability for poor mental health, consequences on paternal health and well-being are relatively unknown. The goal of this study therefore is to investigate the consequences of modern fatherhood on paternal stress level, mental health and well-being.

Method: 3207 fathers, stepfathers, adoptive fathers and foster fathers of all age groups from the German-speaking part of Europe participated in a broad online survey on psychosocial conditions and costs of fatherhood across lifespan. Amongst other parameters, subjective chronic stress, psychological well-being and life satisfaction were assessed. In addition, biological parameters (cortisol, testosterone) were measured on a sub-sample (N = 428) of these fathers by collecting saliva samples.

Results: Preliminary results show a significant impairment of mental health and general life satisfaction in fathers with complex family constellations compared to fathers living in a traditional father–mother–child family model. Beneath differences in socioeconomic status, part of this result can be explained by the lack of a steady relationship in this group of fathers. Hormonal correlates will be presented at the conference.

Conclusion: The additional stress load for fathers due to complex family constellations might represent a possible risk factor for higher vulnerability of children living in some types of contemporary family constellations.

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Additional indexing

Contributors:CENOF
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:June 2015
Deposited On:03 Dec 2015 15:45
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:36
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0022-3999
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2015.03.137

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