Unique Aspects of Father Roles in the Family and in Child Development
Abstract: Despite increased attention to the role of fathers in child development in recent decades, research on fathering still lags behind that of research on mothering. This talk will review two areas of recent research that suggest some family processes may be unique to fathers. First, father-child relationships and consequences for child development will be discussed in the context of family risk factors. Second, I present novel theory and research on potential unique characteristics of father-child attachment relationships. Future directions for both areas of research will be discussed, including a recently funded grant to study father child “activation” relationships and child outcomes.
Bio: Matt Stevenson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Developmental Psychology working with Professor Brenda Volling at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Arizona State University in 2014. Matt is interested in the role of fathers in child development and developmental psychopathology. More specifically his research focuses on three main areas: 1) advancing foundational attachment theory as it relates to father-child relationships, 2) the unique impact of fathers on the development of children’s self-regulation and social skills and 3) the vulnerability of fathering and father-child relationships to marital conflict. Matt’s work draws from several theoretical perspectives including family systems theory, attachment theory, developmental psychopathology, emotional security theory, and a broad ecological systems framework.