SYNOPSIS: Objective. To better understand the antecedents of fathers’ positive engagement and child externalizing behaviors, we examined the roles of maternal coparenting attitudes and fathers’ prenatal intuitive parenting behaviors in predicting fathers’ positive engagement and toddler externalizing behaviors. Design. One hundred and eighty-two dual-earner families residing in Columbus, Ohio, were recruited when parents were expecting their first child. They were followed across the transition to parenthood and assessed at the third trimester (Time 1), 3 months postpartum (Time 2), 9 months postpartum (Time 3), and when the child reached approximately 27 months of age (Time 4). Mothers reported their perceptions of their partners’ parenting competence (i.e., coparenting attitudes) and their children’s externalizing behaviors at Times 2 and 4, respectively. Fathers reported their own positive engagement at Times 2 and 3. Fathers’ intuitive parenting behaviors were observed at Time 1. Results. After controlling for fathers’ positive engagement at Time 2, maternal endorsement of fathers’ parenting competence positively predicted fathers’ positive engagement at Time 3, especially for fathers who displayed average or high levels of prenatal intuitive parenting behaviors. For families with fathers who displayed average or above-average intuitive parenting behaviors, maternal endorsement of fathers’ parenting competence was negatively associated with children’s externalizing behaviors through its positive association with fathers’ positive engagement. Conclusions. Maternal coparenting attitudes in conjunction with fathers’ prenatal intuitive parenting predicted toddler externalizing behaviors through their association with fathers’ positive engagement.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by grant 0746548 from the National Science Foundation, and grants K01HD056238 and R24HD058484 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.