father involvement

For each new edition of the Psychology of Men and Masculinity, we interview authors from a selected publication to highlight some of the exciting research published in the journal. This interview is with João Barrocas, lead author of  “The “Inventory of Father Involvement–Short Form” Among Portuguese Fathers: Psychometric Properties and Contribution to Father Involvement Measurement” by João Barrocas, Salome Vieira-Santos, Rui Paixao, Magda Sofia Roberto, Cicero Roberto Pereira. The article is available “online first” and will be published later in 2016.

This paper addresses an important area of research. What was your inspiration?  

In clinical practice we have been confronted not only with the consequences of the father’s absence from children, which are well documented, but also with the variability in assuming the father role, which has gone far beyond the expected cultural roles.

This, however, has been something of a silent reality, confined to the consulting room. In fact, men have not been given “voice”, although this has tended to change over recent decades. This prompted us to take more of an interest in the father’s presence and involvement rather than in his absence, especially the father’s perspective of his own involvement. Thus, this led to the adaptation of a reliable measure on father involvement to our own cultural context: Portugal. In our view, there is still a need to understand how the social changes in fathering occur within different cultures. In order to achieve this end, scientifically reliable measures are required.

What are some of the main points you would want a general audience to take away from your paper?

Quantity and quality of father involvement are both important, however, most of the self-report measures used still focus explicitly on the amount of father involvement and only implicitly on the quality of the involvement. Our results provide evidence for a self report measure of the quality of father involvement that assesses 9 aspects of fathering and both direct and indirect involvement: discipline and teaching responsibility, school encouragement, mother support, providing, time and talking together, praise and affection, developing talents and future concerns, reading and homework support, and attentiveness. Overall, the results achieved challenge the current use of this instrument with nine subscales. In fact, although we found a multidimensional structure, we were able to measure only a global score of father involvement quality. Thus, more research is required as several researchers claim the need for measuring the diverse dimensions of father involvement systematically.

How might the average person use your findings in their everyday lives or how might these findings be helpful to someone who works with boys or men? 

We adapted the Inventory of Father Involvement – Short Form to be used among Portuguese fathers. It can be used in clinical, educational and/or parenting skills training contexts. In these situations, fathers can learn from a personal analysis on a wide range of contents central to fathering, considering the areas where they perform better and the areas where they have more difficulties in performing. For professionals, its use is an easy and quick way to target central questions regarding parenting and to capture the view fathers have as to their own involvement. The research tells us that men can be as important in their role as fathers as women can be as mothers, and men can perform this role in a significant and meaningful way. This measure gives “voice” to that father experience and thus, enables professionals and researchers to gain further understanding of its diversity. Additionally, the measure also lends itself well to cultural comparisons based on fathers’ perspectives.


Photo of article author João Barrocas and his son, taken by Dr. Barrocas’ wife  Carla Seixas Silva.

barrocas et al image The research team from (top) left to (bottom) right: Cicero Roberto Pereira, João Barrocas, Magda Sofia Roberto, Rui Paixao, and Salome Vieira-Santos.

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