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Alexander Hughes
Alexander Hughes

Father There Is Only One (2019)


The number of children living with their father only, although still small, more than quadrupled from 0.8 million (1%) to 3.3 million (4.5%) between 1968 and 2020. This arrangement remains much less common than living with a mother only.




Father There Is Only One (2019)



This systematic review aims to examine the existing literature concerning the association between father involvement and the development children's cognitive skills during early and middle childhood. Specifically, it analyzes: (1) how the number of researches developed across years; (2) which are the main socio-demographic characteristics of the samples; (3) which are the main focuses examined; and (4) which operational definitions were used to assess father involvement and children cognitive skills. Following the guidelines of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement, the articles were searched through PubMed and EBSCO (PsycInfo, PsycArticles, Education Source, Social Sciences Abstract, Family Studies Abstracts, Gender Studies Database and CINAHL complete). The findings suggest that, although each research used a different operational definition of the father involvement construct, in recent years there was a wide and constant interest increase about this issue. Most of the empirical studies utilized quantitative methods, whereas relatively few used qualitative and only one mixed methods. As regards the analysis of socio-demographic characteristics of the samples there is a great evidence that most of them included biological and residential fathers: it may reflect that this type of sample is easier to recruit than non-residential and non-biological fathers. Regarding the socio-economic status and the ethnicity of families, the data highlighted how in recent years the literature on father involvement is starting to look at differences in ethnic and cultural backgrounds, in contrast to past researches. The findings revealed that the main focus is the impact of father involvement on children's cognitive skills and the most of the studies highlighted that it is positive and statistically significant. Regarding to the assessment of father involvement and children's cognitive skills, the literature is quite heterogeneous.


However, notwithstanding the extensive literature on the topic, there is a great difficulty in finding an agreed definition of the construct of parental involvement, as it is conceptualized in a variety of ways (Harris and Goodall, 2007). For example, some authors distinguish between school- and home-based involvement: the first refers to the communications between parents and school personnel and to the parental engagement in activities children must perform at school (Grolnick and Slowiaczek, 1994; e.g., Hill, 2001), while the second (home-based) includes all the school activities that both mothers and fathers perform with their children at home (Hill, 2001). Other researchers investigated a further form of parental involvement not directly related to school (e.g., playing sports and other games, going to the cinema or a museum) that can influence school achievement (Nord et al., 1997).


Nevertheless, regarding the families' SESs and ethnicities, we found a great heterogeneity across all the studies. Between the studies that distinguished minority, non-minority, and mixed ethnicity samples, 12.5% of the selected articles recruited only minority fathers, 30% exclusively focused on non-minority men, and 40% had a mixed ethnicity sample. More specifically, most of the studies that focused on minority or mixed ethnicity included African American (Black et al., 1999; Cabrera et al., 2011) and Hispanic fathers (Ortiz, 2000; Saracho, 2007a, 2008).


Consequently, in recent years, there was an increase in studies focused on the efficacy of father involvement interventions. Indeed, among the 40 selected articles, the focus most investigated, after the relationship between father involvement and children's outcomes, was the benefits and strategies that can improve father involvement in children's education.


Another implication for future researches is related to the necessity of extending and deepening the conceptualizations of father involvement in children's cognitive skills development, not focusing exclusively on fathers engagement. Currently, there is vast evidence in the literature that father involvement is a multidimensional construct influenced by personality, family history, child characteristics, marital quality, and the father's sociocultural context (Volling and Belsky, 1991). For this reason, the use of one single source of information and one method of measurement of father involvement is reductive, and there is a necessity for studies to incorporate multiple informants and methods (e.g., observations, surveys carried out by both fathers and mothers, diaries) in the assessment of paternal involvement (Cabrera et al., 2018; Cabrera and Volling, 2019). Furthermore, future research should create and validate measures of parenting practices for both low-income and minority families and use longitudinal designs to better understand the association between father involvement and children's outcomes.


I live in the US, but my grandfather was born in Korea when it was a Japanese colony (he is 88 years old). It's been very sad to watch him lose his command of English (his third language after Japanese and Korean) over the last few years. And now, he cannot communicate in English at all. He used to ask people to refer to him as "James" instead of his Korean name. But now, he doesn't remember either of those names anymore, and will only respond to someone calling him by his Korean last name or the Korean words for "brother" or "son".


Luckily, the cost of care hasn't been an issue, but everyone we know wishes the old version of him would come back. The last time I saw him in-person was January 2020 and ever since then, only my father and my uncles have been able to see him from six-feet away due to his extreme COVID risk. I hope to see him again soon without putting him at risk, but it just pains me to think of the hell he is going through.


Interesting blog and comments. Yes, the human race is the only race and races are a social construct, and it would be great if we were all treated equally, but that is not the reality that we live in. If we want to work towards a future where it is the reality, we need acknowledge the disadvantages that those outside the majority white group experience and work to eliminate them. To do this we need a means of identifying those being disadvantaged.I don't personally have an issue with BAME or BME being used to identify me, there have been much worse terms used. However, I think that they are too broad. The experiences of those in the different groups encompassed by these terms are not all the same. There is no one size to fit all, either in the means of identifying/labelling or in experience or in the means of addressing disadvantages.A few commenters have said that they prefer to be called black and that's great if it works for them, but it wouldn't work for me. I'm biracial (white English and black Caribbean) but very light skinned and my facial features are a perfect mix of my parents making it difficult for some people to identify my ethnicity. This has caused problems in the past where people have assumed I'm white and their behaviour towards me has changed when they've discovered otherwise.


Individuals from Ethnic Minority / Minority Ethnic / BAME / Non-white backgrounds make up only 7.8% of the Senior Civil Service, while being 14% of the UK population. Do you see that there is no "preferential treatment" here?


Chiara is absolutely right - there is only one race of people: the human race. The idea of there being different races of people is an essential concept in racist ideologies, dividing and subjugating on a false premise. By continuing to use the term (particularly in the naming of Civil Service units and public awards, despite acknowledging it is an inappropriate term, as Samantha highlights) it lends credibility to the concept.It's not to make 'racism' or 'racist' dirty words, or to deny the experience of people who have been victim of racism, but we should be more savvy about use of the term race.


I also have to tick the white box, but it doesn't say anything about me so in that sense I am not bothered.But it annoys me that because of prejudice we have to have these boxes. There are no white or black people only different shades of flesh colour and everyone has a unique colour so it makes no sense to group people by colour. Everyone is unique so it makes little sense to group by ethnicity.But we still have prejudice so we have to try and tackle it and grouping people by 'colour' may or may not help in reducing prejudice.It may be better to help people to be resilient to prejudice though education. And of course use education to reduce prejudice.


Firstly I would like to thank Samantha for her contribution which I whole heartedly endorse. I am very new to the Civil Service having joined in October 2018. I am however not new to the on-going debate regarding race, ethnicity, identity etc. I speak from a point of knowledge as my father was Nigerian and my mother English. I identify as black as is my choice and it is a political one. I only have one further point to add to Samantha's excellent dissection of Zamila Bunglawala's piece and that is the extremely small number used in the research which was carried out. Which immediately raises the question of who where the 300? Were they a self nominating group? Were they representative of the Civil Service or the general population? And so on to have only 3 out of 300 only vaguely aware of the terms BAME and BME is shocking. If this is representative of colleagues within the Civil Service I am appalled. Irrespective of Zamila Bunglawala's comments I will continue to claim MY black identity as this is my heritage and I would urge others to claim theirs. 041b061a72


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