Where's Poppa?: The Relative Lack of Attention to the Role of Fathers in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

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Compared with mothers, fathers are dramatically underrepresented in clinical child and adolescent research. The author reviewed empirical and theoretical clinical child and adolescent literature to ascertain the reasons for this underrepresentation. Four somewhat interrelated factors are discussed: practical issues in participant recruitment, differential base rates of paternal vs maternal psychopathology, theory-driven research based on sexist theories, and research assumptions based on outdated societal norms. Suggestions for future research are discussed, including parallel investigations of paternal characteristics whenever maternal characteristics are investigated, assessment of both similarities and differences in the role of fathers and mothers in child and adolescent psychopathology, and investigation of parenting factors for both fathers and mothers (e.g., time spent in actual caretaking, career vs family orientation) in relation to child and adolescent psychopathology.

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American Psychologist, v. 47, issue 5, p. 656-664.