Modeling the role of fathers in child anxiety

by Kaela L Stuart

Institution: Kent State University
Department: College of Arts and Sciences / Department of Psychology
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Psychology; anxiety, child, adolescence, father, mother, partner conflict, attachment, autonomy granting
Record ID: 2058299
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1429359980


The current study investigated links between child, and paternal and maternal anxiety, and family process factors, over a nine year period. Specifically, we examined the role of parental anxiety, partner conflict, attachment security and parental autonomy granting in explaining changes in child, father, and mother anxiety symptoms. The primary goal of the study was to examine the long-term impact of fathers in child anxiety, which has been under-studied in the literature. We utilized data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N=252), from when target children were in first grade, fifth grade, and fifteen years of age. We tested identical longitudinal path models for both mothers and fathers and found that both models were a good fit for the data. We also found that lower attachment security to fathers and mothers, and a restriction of maternal autonomy granting, predicted increases in child anxiety over time. Additionally, we found that partner conflict explained the association between earlier and later parental anxiety, which is a novel finding in the literature. Together, these findings suggest that fathers play an important long-term role in child anxiety, similar to that of mothers, even as children move from early childhood into adolescence.