FATHERS by Ross Parke
Kirkus Star


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Long neglected by psychology as significant research subjects, fathers have only recently come to be seen as influential in their children's early development. Parke's friendly synthesis of the most current research on fathers shows how extensive their influence can be, both directly (how they play is more important than how much) and indirectly (by affecting the mother-infant relationship). Fathers involved with hospital newborns tend to continue that relationship during the first months at home; they can, like mothers, learn to identify different kinds of cries; and those who regularly share caretaking activities generally have youngsters ""better able to handle strange situations."" Parke looks at social and intellectual development beyond these first-year contacts--fathers influence daughters less in infancy than later on--and he considers how innovations in fathering (e.g. dad as primary caregiver) are faring: so far, no problems. (He also reminds us that some ideas, such as custodial fathers, are not so new; until this century, children were viewed as property under English law and fathers were routinely granted custody following divorce.) Children benefit from less superficial relationships with their fathers and, not surprisingly, so do the fathers. From the start, books in The Developing Child Series have been praiseworthy--prime sources for parents and professionals; Fathers, concentrating on a comparatively unexplored area, merits particular commendation.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press