¶ … fathers are taking an increasing part in the role of caring for children and bringing them up, particularly so since women have entered the workforce en flux, social research has increasingly focused on the part that father's play in raising their young children. The current opinion today as regards parenting is that shared parenting is the ideal situation particularly for mothers who are compelled to act as both breadwinners and fully available and concerned parents in a supportive and nourishing environment. Data shows that although the father often attempts to assume the nurturing role, the working mother often still remains the primary responsible caretaker in the family.
Questions that this study attempted to answer, consequently, were the following: Firstly, how do father and children form an attachment relationship in the first few years of life? In which sort of contexts do they do so, given that mothers remain responsible for most of the care associated with child rearing? Secondly, fathers would like to be more involved with their children and certain obstacles -- such as lack of role models for father, mother acting as gatekeeper to father's involvement, and father's conditioning - have been quantified. These obstacles, seemingly, invariably, affect the fathers from spend quality time with their children. This essay, therefore, also served as an attempt to examine the father's level and quality of his involvement with the child during the child's first two years of his life in order to determine the possible positive or negative (or neutral) effects of the outcome on the child.
I found the prelude to the research problem to be more complex than necessary. Essentially, the entire problem can be reduced to the one statement that the research study intends to evaluate the father's qualitative impact on the child during the child's early years of his life. Instead, I found the introduction to preamble and to state its point in a more complex manner than necessary.
The literature review too, is unnecessarily long and convoluted. Succinctly, it would have been best to state that fathers are motivated to care for their children; nonetheless, several obstacles -- not of their choosing (such as socialization and mothers acting as gatekeepers) may prevent them from adequately fulfilling their expectations.
The author's conclusion to the literature review, 'the purpose of study' adequately summed up their preamble, but they brought in an additional study objective that was absent in their prelude. In this 'purpose of study' (p.40), they also mentioned that they intended to "examine the amount of time fathers spend with their children" aside from the qualitative nature of the relationships. The implied contributions consequent from this research will be father improving his attachment to child as well as enhancing his role as affective caregiver within the family. The research question, purpose and hypothesis could have been communicated more clearly and concisely.
There seem to be no clear hypotheses in this study. The study seems to take it as a given that the father is impeded by obstacles external to his control in adequately caring for the child (as nurturing attachment figure). Kazura (2000) implies that he accepts this perspective. His study now is to test his assumption. If this, therefore, this is his hypothesis, which is what it seems to be, the hypothesis is therefore leading in a unidirectional manner, and is slated as an implicit research hypothesis.
Strengths and Limitations of the Study
The limitations involve the sample. I found the sample to be skewed: the average was early middle-aged parents (mothers, 31.95 years, and fathers, 35.54 years) from a middle-class, almost primarily Caucasian population, with only two children being adopted. The topic -- to study father's parenting style - is complex, and, to replicate that diversity, a more diverse population should have been chosen with father's age spanning the spectrum, and with families stemming from a greater diversity of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. It is likely that the study was deliberately conducted in so confined...
Nonetheless, the very perimeters of the population sample itself introduces these biased components since the age of the fathers and the fact that they come from a more relaxed socio-economic environment may enable them to accord their children more attention than those from a less advantageous background or older image can. For the methodology to adequately address its generalized and complex research question, fathers from across the spectrum and from a diversity of cultural backgrounds would have to be assessed. Although this is realistically difficult to do, the researcher may have chosen a cross-sectional methodology and/or a combination of a longitudinal / cross-sectional approach, where families from diverse backgrounds are observed and constricted over time.
Furthermore, I found the sample of this study to be too small. 27 fathers and 27 mothers are insufficient to come to conclusions on this case.
I would have also liked to have information about this 'principle investigator' -- his or her level of objectivity, for instance, and possible confounding factors regarding his impact on the interview. In a factor called researcher effects, the personality and culture of interviewers (or other aspects such as demeanor, accent, gender, and age) can effect elements of the interview (Breakwell, Hammond, & Fife-Schaw, 2000) and observe here, too, that the interviewer's ethnic origin may subjectively interfere with his or her structured interview in the case of the two African-American families and the one eastern Indian family, particularly since people engage in more self-disclosure to an interviewer who they think is similar to themselves (Fowler, 2009). Surveys have to be very carefully structured so as to screen out any confounding and racially subjective questions that may be misunderstood by one or either sides (Fowler, 2009). There are no examples of specific questions articulated by the Parent-Child Caregiving Questionnaire, and the researcher may have unintentionally introduced disruptive and corrupting elements into the interview. (This subjectivity was somewhat reduced by videotapes being employed to record social interactions and by the fact that these tapes were coded independently; the question however then extends to the objective stance of the two observers who coded the videotapes)
Kazura (2000) adopted the Strange Situation procedure for observing the child's behavior in the presence of either father or mother. The Strange Situation procedure is well respected. The problem is that I see subjectivity creeping in due to the fact that the child, for instance, may be moody, hungry or evidence different acceptance to one or other of the parents that are not, necessarily, related to that parent. Moreover, as a whole I see so many other factors affecting the study that I find it difficult to imagine how the authors can draw any reliable results from their conclusions, particularly since their sample is limited and small. One instance that comes to me is the possibility of a father physically or sexually abusing his child. The child may act disturbed in his presence, and the author or Inspector ignorant of the abuse would attribute the discomfort to one of the listed impediments obstructing males from forming their desired attachment with their child. It is difficult in this way to assess whether lack of parental attachment may be attributed to external impediments (and if so which one) or whether there may be legitimate reason to the child's discomfort.
To the author's credit, he does note that "strong conclusions based on this study alone are not warranted due to the small size and exploratory nature of the investigation" (9).
The interpretations were consistent with the results and if the observers who assessed the data were objective, the instrument used is reliable, and the data was assessed in a scientific, acceptable and well-matched manner (t-tests, followed by ANCOVAS for some variables).
Practical implications of the research include the observations that children may benefit from increased play interacting with fathers since father's stylistic play differences (namely more goal-oriented and directive) help children increase their toy exploration. The author deduces this from her observation that children's play level increased while interacting with their father. Whilst her rationale for this observation may be valid, other plausible reasons may include the fact that children delight in the rare attention from father or that the masculine presence may demand more attention. Kazura's (2000) observation may possess validity, but his conclusion that "fathers engaged their children in higher levels of pretend play than mother" may be a generalization, particularly since abilities of imagination and creativity depend on the individual and this (though Kazura did acknowledge that fact) is a small sample.
The Ethical Aspects of the Study
The ethical aspects -- with the possible exception of the interviewer being biased -- seemed above board. The study does not indicate whether participants were guaranteed confidentiality, although presumably they were. No deception was practiced in the study, nor are there indications whether the study was approved by an Institutional Review Board or similar ethics review committee. No coercion or undue influence was used on the participants…
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