Marital satisfaction, maternal gatekeeping, and father involvement across the transition to parenthood
Thompson, Michelle Marie
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This study evaluated the independent and joint effects of maternal gatekeeping and marital satisfaction on fathers’ involvement with their young children. Mothers and fathers reported their marital satisfaction pre-birth, and maternal gatekeeping at 3 months. Fathers were subsequently interviewed about their involvement (accessibility and interaction) on workdays and non-workdays when the child was 3 years old. There were no direct associations between father involvement and either marital satisfaction or gatekeeping. However, regression analyses showed a significant interaction between gatekeeping and marital satisfaction such that the impact of gatekeeping on father involvement is dependent upon the quality of the marital relationship. Maternal gatekeeping is associated with somewhat higher levels of father involvement in the context of a positive marriage, but in conflictual marriages, gatekeeping is linked to lower levels of father involvement. These results provide some evidence that maternal gatekeeping might be constructive for father involvement in the context of healthy marriages.