Nonresidential Fathers and Parental Involvement
I believe that fathers who do not live in-home with their children can still be significantly involved in their child(ren)’s life. Of course, there are factors that can negatively influence a nonresidential father’s child involvement such as lack of income or social support. In other words, low-income fathers who have greater social support are more involved and spend more time with their children. Inherently, social support from the child’s mother may also likely boost a father’s involvement.
Parenting self-efficacy is a psychological term that refers to the extent to which a parent believes in their ability to successfully execute their parenting role. For nonresidential fathers, the greater the belief in his ability to effectively parent his children, the more involved he will likely be. Parenting self-efficacy is a significant component of the parenting process in that parental involvement influences parenting self-efficacy. The more involvement a father has with their children, the more likely he will believe that he can effectively parent. In the United States, self-efficacy levels are strong predictors of competent parenting. Yet, this paradigm goes the other way as well in that when nonresident fathers are not highly involved with their children, they are less confident in their ability to fulfill their father role successfully. For clarification, the less involved a nonresident father is with their child, the lower their level of confidence in successfully parenting their child.
A child’s age and temperament play an important role in nonresidential fathers' level of confidence in their parenting as well. For example, if a child presents with behavioral concerns such as delinquency, substance use, or defiance, a father may consider whether he has the ability to positively influence the child to make positive choices that will positively influence his or her behavior. Thus, if a father does not feel confident that he can manage the child’s behavior, he may not be as involved as he would if he felt confident in doing so and his level of confidence will either remain low or decrease further. The age of the child also influences parenting confidence, in that fathers may appear more confident in parenting infants and toddlers more than adolescent children, who experience hormonal and identity changes that are influenced by their social environment. Fathers of infants and toddlers may feel more confident in their ability to care for their child due to their understanding of the child needing basic necessities to be content, calm, and safe.
All in all, fatherhood programs located within communities, which could be identified through a local Department of Social Services, could be utilized to incorporate these facts in its programming to educate and influence an increase in a father’s involvement in their child’s life, despite not living with the child. Ultimately, research has shown that the more involvement a father has with their child, the more likely they are to be confident and comfortable in their role as a father. Therefore, fathers should be encouraged to overcome inherent challenges that can come with their nonresidential status in order to maintain or develop their sense of identity, role, and confidence in being a father.