Do Workplace Characteristics Moderate the Effects of Attitudes on Father Warmth and Engagement?

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Holmes, Erin Kramer
Petts, Richard J.
Thomas, Clare R.
Robbins, Nathan L.
Henry, Tom
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father involvement
father-child relations
workplace flexibility
work-life conflict
work-family interface
work-family conflict
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Though many fathers want to be warmer, more nurturing, and more actively involved than prior generations (i.e., the new fatherhood ideal), they also embrace a father’s traditional role as financial earner. Thus, we hypothesized that fathers’ attitudes about their roles would likely interact with workplace characteristics to produce variations in father warmth and engagement. Using a national sample of 1,020 employed U.S. fathers with children ages 2–8 years old, results suggest that adherence to the new fatherhood ideal was associated with more frequent father engagement and warmth, while endorsing traditional gender norms was associated with less father warmth. Also consistent with prior research showing that family friendly work cultures may enable fathers to be more engaged parents, we find that a family supportive workplace and greater flexibility in when and where fathers work, were associated with more frequent father engagement and warmth. Moreover, interaction results suggest that the associations between job flexibility and engagement are stronger for fathers who do not fully endorse the new fatherhood ideal; associations between workplace support and warmth are also stronger for fathers who do not fully endorse the new fatherhood ideal. Thus, flexibility and a family supportive workplace may particularly enable father involvement for fathers whose attitudes might otherwise be a barrier to their involvement.