Card image cap
Card image cap

Paternal experience and internalized problems in young children in precarious situations: the father’s perspective

Myriam Kettani, Chantal Zaouche Gaudron, Carl Lacharité, Diane Dubeau, Marie-Ève Clément

Research Framework: In a previous article (Kettani and Zaouche-Gaudron, 2012a), we detailed internalized problems as evaluated by fathers are more significant for young children living in precarious situations than for young children in better-off families.
Objectives: The objective here is to examine the role of paternal experience in an explanation of the connection between precariousness and the internalized conduct of young children.
Methodology: The sample included 187 fathers of children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old who filled out questionnaires evaluating the internalized conduct of their children, paternal experience (paternal commitment, paternal stress and feelings of paternal competency) and their socio-economic situation (family income, housing conditions, father’s employment status and perception of financial status)
Results: The results showed that children living in a more precarious setting present more internalized problems than children who live in better off settings. There was no difference in paternal commitment for fathers in precarious settings versus those in better off situations. However, fathers in more precarious contexts had higher levels of stress and a lower feeling of paternal competency which largely explains the internalized problems of the children. The paternal perception of financial constraint played a significant role in explaining the internalized problems of children than did more objective measures of precariousness.
Conclusions: The paternal perception of their socio-economic situation and their life experience, which were evaluated via the feeling of competency and paternal stress, best explained the internalized problems of children living in precarious settings.
Contribution: These results highlight the importance of considering subjective aspects of precariousness as well as effects related to the paternal role to encourage the personal growth of fathers as well as the socio-affective adjustments of families in precarious situations.