Openness to the World by Fathers and Mothers of Preschoolers in Two-parent Families

Abertura ao Mundo de Pais e Mães de Pré-Escolares em Famílias Biparentais

Apertura al Mundo de Padres y Madres de Preescolares en Familias Biparentales

João Paulo Koltermann Carolina Duarte de Souza Rovana Kinas Bueno Larissa Paraventi Mauro Luis Vieira About the authors

Abstract

The role of fostering Openness to the World (OW) refers to disciplinarian parenting behaviors that encourage children to take risks and persevere when facing challenges. This study aimed to characterize, compare, and define typologies of OW for fathers and mothers in southern Brazil. The Openness to the World Questionnaire was answered by 171 heteroaffective couples with preschool children. Inferential statistical analyzes indicated that mothers reported providing significantly more Stimulus to Perseverance than fathers. Eight different types of typologies of OW were identified: Activating Father/Mother, Protective Father/Mother, Reckless Father/Mother, Authoritarian Father, and Overprotective Mother. The analysis of these results allows us to conclude that there is a society transition process in which more traditional families (mothers responsible for the children’s education) coexist with others in which fathers and mothers play the role of fostering OW. Because of the benefits that OW brings to child development, it is suggested that it should be included in public policies that promote positive parenting.

Keyword:
paternal function; parent-child relations; mother-child relations; preschoolers

Resumo

A função de Abertura ao Mundo (AM) refere-se a comportamentos parentais que estimulam a criança a assumir risco, perseverar diante de desafios e disciplinadores. Esse estudo teve como objetivo caracterizar, comparar e definir tipologias da AM de pais e mães da região sul do Brasil. O Questionário de AM foi respondido por 171 casais heteroafetivos com crianças pré-escolares. Análises estatísticas inferenciais indicaram que mães relataram exercer significativamente mais Estímulo à Perseverança que os pais. Identificaram-se oito diferentes tipologias de AM: Pai/Mãe Ativador(a), Pai/Mãe Protetor(a), Pai/Mãe Imprudente, Pai Autoritário e Mãe Superprotetora. A análise desses resultados permite concluir que ocorre um processo de transição da sociedade em que coexistem famílias mais tradicionais (mães responsáveis pela educação das crianças) e outras com compartilhamento do exercício da função de AM entre pais e mães. Pelos benefícios da AM para o desenvolvimento infantil, sugere- se incluí-la em Políticas Públicas que promovam parentalidade positiva.

Palavras-chave:
função paterna; relações pais-criança; relações mãe-criança; pré-escolares

Resumen

La función de Apertura al Mundo (AM) se refiere a comportamientos parentales que alientan a los niños a asumir riesgos, perseverar ante los desafíos y la disciplina. El presente estudio tuvo como objetivo caracterizar, comparar y definir tipologías de AM de padres y madres en la región Sur de Brasil. Contestaron al cuestionario de AM 171 parejas heteroafectivas con niños preescolares. Los análisis estadísticos inferenciales indicaron que las madres informaron ejercitar significativamente más el Estímulo a la Perseverancia que los padres. Se identificaron ocho tipologías diferentes de AM: Padre/Madre Activador/a; Padre/Madre Protector/a; Padre/Madre Imprudente; Padre Autoritario y Madre Sobreprotectora. El análisis de estos resultados nos permite concluir que existe un proceso de transición de la sociedad en el que coexisten familias más tradicionales (madres responsables de la educación de los niños) y otras que comparten el ejercicio del papel de AM entre padres y madres. Debido a los beneficios de la AM para el desarrollo infantil, se sugiere incluirla en las Políticas Públicas que promueven la parentalidad positiva.

Palabras clave:
función paterna; relaciones padres-niño; relaciones madre-niño; pre escolares

In the last decades, sociocultural changes can be associated with changes in the ways and meanings of parenting (Gorin, Mello, Machado, & Feres-Carneiro, 2015Gorin, M. C., Mello, R., Machado, R. N., & Féres-Carneiro, T. (2015). O estatuto contemporâneo da parentalidade [The contemporary statute of parenthood]. Revista da SPAGESP, 16(2), 3-15. Retrieved from http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1677-29702015000200002
http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?scr...
), and especially fatherhood (Dumont & Paquette, 2013Paquette, D., & Dumont, C. (2013). Is father-child rough-and-tumble play associated with attachment or activation relationships? Early Child Development and Care, 183(6), 760-773. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.723440
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.72...
; Fagan, Day, Lamb, & Cabrera, 2014Fagan, J., Day, R., Lamb, M. E., & Cabrera, N. J. (2014). Should researchers conceptualize differently the dimensions of parenting for fathers and mothers? Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6(4), 390-405. doi:10.1111/jftr.12044
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12044...
). In Brazil, these transformations point to increased paternal involvement (Bossardi, Gomes, Vieira, & Crepaldi, 2013Gomes, L. B., Crepaldi, M. A., & Bigras, M. (2013). Paternal engagement as an adjustment factor of aggressiveness in preschool students. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto), 23(54), 21-29. doi:10.1590/1982-43272354201304
https://doi.org/10.1590/1982-43272354201...
; Gomes, Crepaldi, & Bigras, 2013), which is evidenced as a positive influence on human developmental trajectory (Gomes et al., 2013).

The contributions of paternal participation in a child’s life have been studied in the context of the distinctions and specificities of father and mother involvement with children (Coyl-Shepherd & Newland, 2013Newland, L. A., Coyl-Shepherd, D. D., & Paquette, D. (2013). Implications of mothering and fathering for children’s development. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 337-342. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711586
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
; John, Halliburton, & Humphrey, 2013John, A., Halliburton, A., & Humphrey, J. (2013). Child-mother and child-father play interaction patterns with preschoolers. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 483-497. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711595
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
; Newland, Coyl-Shepherd, & Paquette, 2013Paquette, D., & Dumont, C. (2013). Is father-child rough-and-tumble play associated with attachment or activation relationships? Early Child Development and Care, 183(6), 760-773. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.723440
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.72...
; Schoppe-Sullivan, Kotila, Jia, Lang, & Bower, 2013Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kotila, L., Jia, R., Lang, S. N., & Bower, D. J. (2013). Comparisons of levels and predictors of mothers’ and fathers’ engagement with their preschool aged children. Early Child Development Care, 183(3-4), 498-514. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711596
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
). These investigations are anchored in Bowlby and Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory (Gaumon & Paquette, 2013Gaumon, S., & Paquette, D. (2013). The father-child activation relationship and internalising disorders at preschool age. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 447-463. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711593
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
), which states that for the proper development of affective bonds in adulthood, the child needs to be met in two dimensions: 1) to be comforted and embraced when in dangerous situations, 2) to be encouraged by their main caregivers to be autonomous when exploring the environment. Research results indicate that, in general, mothers tend to take on more attachment-oriented roles - emotional support, basic care, and schoolwork (Coyl-Shepherd & Newland, 2013; John et al., 2013), whereas fathers often play a role more focused on the exploration dimension - encouraging children’s autonomy by proposing stimulating play and activities that involve physical risks and challenges (John et al., 2013; Newland & Coyl, 2010; Newland et al., 2013; Paquette & Bigras, 2010). Thus, according to these studies, parental gender influences how parents engage in these activities (Newland & Coyl, 2010; Newland et al., 2013; Paquette & Bigras, 2010; Schoppe-Sullivan et al., 2013).

It is important to mention that indicating differentiations in how fathers and mothers engage with their children can be used to characterize the way parental involvement has been performed socially, which aims to enhance understanding of this reality. There is no intention to make essentialist notes of gender, since it is understood that the meanings of this category are (re) signified through communications, which demarcate bodies and spaces of power (Nogueira, 2001Nogueira, C. (2001). Feminismo e discurso do gênero na psicologia social [Feminism and gender discourse in social psychology]. Psicologia & Sociedade, 13(1), 107-128. Retrieved from http://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/handle/1822/4117
http://repositorium.sdum.uminho.pt/handl...
). Therefore, it does not mean that fathers do not engage in activities that promote their children’s safety and care, nor that mothers do not provide exploratory games and encourage autonomy. Still, the studies mentioned point to the existence of parental gender differences in the activities that fathers and mothers carry out with their children (Newland & Coyl, 2010Newland, L. A., & Coyl, D. D. (2010). Fathers’ role as attachment figures: An interview with Sir Richard Bowlby. Early Child Development & Care, 180(1-2), 25-32. doi:10.1080/03004430903414679
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341467...
; Newland et al., 2013; Schoppe-Sullivan et al., 2013Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kotila, L., Jia, R., Lang, S. N., & Bower, D. J. (2013). Comparisons of levels and predictors of mothers’ and fathers’ engagement with their preschool aged children. Early Child Development Care, 183(3-4), 498-514. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711596
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
), probably marked by sociocultural gender differences learned over generations (Palkovitz, Trask, & Adamsons, 2014Palkovitz, R., Trask, B. S., & Adamsons, K. (2014). Essential differences in the meaning and processes of mothering and fathering: Family systems, feminist and qualitative perspectives. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6(4), 406-420. doi:10.1111/jftr.12048
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12048...
), or even due to the investigation methodological design (Fagan et al., 2014Fagan, J., Day, R., Lamb, M. E., & Cabrera, N. J. (2014). Should researchers conceptualize differently the dimensions of parenting for fathers and mothers? Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6(4), 390-405. doi:10.1111/jftr.12044
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12044...
).

Due to the results of these studies regarding the exploration dimension of the Attachment Theory proposed by Bowlby, and considering the specificities of the paternal contribution to child development, Paquette (2012Paquette, D. (2012). The father-child activation relationship: A new theory to understand the development of infant mental health. The Signal, 20(1), 1-5. Retrieved from https://perspectives.waimh.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2017/05/The-father-child-activation-relationship-A-new-theory-to-understand-the-development-of-infant-mental-health.pdf
https://perspectives.waimh.org/wp-conten...
) developed the Activation Relationship Theory (ART). This theory highlights the father-child affective bond that happens mainly through the role of fostering OW. For this author, this role is related to the father’s participation in encouraging the child to engage in risky activities and to persevere in the face of frustrations and challenges. However, the father also establishes rules and punishments for disobedience in order to ensure the child’s safety and confidence in the caregiver to protect him/her. The mother-child Attachment Relationship satisfies the child’s need in relation to being calmed and comforted. On the other hand, the Activation Relationship (AR) conceives the father-child relationship as a moment, among other aspects, of engaging in activities, taking on and overcoming challenges, and feeling confident and protected from potential dangers by interacting with the caregiver (Gaumon & Paquette, 2013Gaumon, S., & Paquette, D. (2013). The father-child activation relationship and internalising disorders at preschool age. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 447-463. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711593
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
). Paquette and Bigras (2010) stress the importance of the complementarity of maternal and paternal roles to fulfill the child’s needs, however emphasizing that mothers can activate children and fathers can embrace them.

According to Paquette and Bigras (2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
), father-child AR can result in three outcomes for child development: underactivation, activation and overactivation. Underactivated children are insecure when interacting with a stranger, carry out little exploration of a new environment, do not get too far from their fathers, and often obey them. They may develop low self-esteem, excessive insecurity, submission to authority, lack of initiative to engage in activities, besides fearing new situations.

In contrast, overactivated children interact with strangers without hesitation, engage in exploring a new situation without analyzing possible dangers, and often disobey their fathers. Aggressiveness in addition to peer and authority relationship issues can be found in these children (Paquette & Bigras, 2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
).

The activated children, in turn, engage with strangers in a cautious manner, explore the new environment aware of the risks and paternal instructions. They often develop self-confidence and self-control and are able to behave appropriately in risky situations even without their fathers (Paquette & Bigras, 2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
). Thus, when the father properly plays the role of fostering OW, he helps the child develop self-regulation in relation to his/her anxiety (Gaumon, Paquette, Cyr, Émond-Nakamura, & St-André, 2016Gaumon, S., Paquette, D., Cyr, C., Émond-Nakamura, M., & St-André, M. (2016). Anxiety and attachment to the mother in preschoolers receiving psychiatric care: The father-child activation relationship as a protective factor. Infant Mental Health Journal, 37(4), 372-387. doi:10.1002/imhj.21571
https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.21571...
) and aggressiveness, and social skills of cooperation, autonomy and competition (Paquette & Bigras, 2010).

While AR focuses on the child’s behavior, OW focuses on the father’s behavior. As both phenomena are related, Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
) assumed that the types of child activation allow the identification of parental typologies about how they foster their children’s OW. These typologies are based on the father’s stimulus and punishment behaviors towards the child. The prepared adventurous father is that who stimulates the child to risk, protecting him/her; the overprotector disciplines the child, but do not encourage him/her to take risks; the inconsistent encourages the child to take risks, but does not assess the risks involved in the activity (not protecting him/her); and the uninvolved performs neither of the functions.

According to this theory, fathers generally engage more in playing with their children than mothers (Paquette, 2012Paquette, D. (2012). The father-child activation relationship: A new theory to understand the development of infant mental health. The Signal, 20(1), 1-5. Retrieved from https://perspectives.waimh.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2017/05/The-father-child-activation-relationship-A-new-theory-to-understand-the-development-of-infant-mental-health.pdf
https://perspectives.waimh.org/wp-conten...
), especially in turbulent play - a physical game with intense fighting, jumping, falling and running behavior (Paquette & Dumont, 2013Dumont, C., & Paquette, D. (2013). What about the child’s tie to the father? A new insight into fathering, father-child attachment, children’s socio-emotional development and the activation relationship theory. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 430-446. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711592
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
). According to Dumont and Paquette (2013), AR occurs especially by performing these games with the child where rules are clearly established by the caregiver. Thus, international studies mostly highlight that it is the father who most establishes AR and OW behaviors with the child (Dumont & Paquette, 2013; Gaumon et al., 2016Gaumon, S., Paquette, D., Cyr, C., Émond-Nakamura, M., & St-André, M. (2016). Anxiety and attachment to the mother in preschoolers receiving psychiatric care: The father-child activation relationship as a protective factor. Infant Mental Health Journal, 37(4), 372-387. doi:10.1002/imhj.21571
https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.21571...
; Paquette & Bigras, 2010)

There are still few Brazilian studies on ART and/or the role of fostering OW. Research on 218 child-free people found that in their perception, the father plays the role of fostering OW more with the boy than with the girl (Paraventi et al., 2017Paraventi, L., Bittencourt, I. G., Schulz, M. L. C., Souza, C. D., Bueno, R. K., & Vieira, M. L. (2017). A percepção de pessoas sem filhos sobre a função paterna de abertura ao mundo [The perception of people without children about the paternal function of openness to the world]. Psico, 48(1), 1-11. doi:10.15448/1980-8623.2017.1.24057
https://doi.org/10.15448/1980-8623.2017....
). The research by Bueno, Vieira, Crepaldi and Faraco (2019Bueno, R. K., Vieira, M. L., Crepaldi, M. A., & Faraco, A. M. X. (2019). Father-child activation relationship in the Brazilian context. Early Child Development and Care, 189(5), 835-845. doi:10.1080/03004430.2017.1345894
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2017.13...
) analyzed AR in 12 father-child dyads by means of observation, finding that, in relation to the participating children, the six boys were more active than the six girls.

Although ART states that the mother can also play the role of fostering child’s OW (Paquette & Bigras, 2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
), and studies suggest that this function should be compared between mothers and fathers (Gaumon & Paquette, 2013Gaumon, S., & Paquette, D. (2013). The father-child activation relationship and internalising disorders at preschool age. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 447-463. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711593
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
), this relationship was investigated only in the research of Lafond (2014Lafond, K. G. (2014). L’agencement des relations père-enfant et mere-enfant: Liens avec le developpement social d’enfants d’age prescolaire de familles nucleaires [The arrangement of father-child and mother-child relationships: Links to the social development of preschool children of nuclear families] (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from http://savoirs.usherbrooke.ca/handle/11143/6414
http://savoirs.usherbrooke.ca/handle/111...
) to date. The author did not find significant differences between fostering children’s OW by fathers and mothers, which was attributed to the small sample of five Canadian fathers and five Canadian mothers, indicating need of studies that make this comparison with larger samples and in different cultures. Considering the above, this article aimed to characterize, compare, and define the typologies of OW for fathers and mothers of southern Brazil. Even with the increasing gender equality in the family context, based on the literature on the phenomenon (Gaumon et al., 2016), it is hypothesized that the father is more involved with the child’s OW than the mother due to the appreciation by the current socio-cultural context.

Method

Participants

Participated in the research a total of 161 biological fathers (94.77%) and nine stepfathers (5.23%) with average age of 37.94 years (SD ± 6.77), and 171 mothers with average age of 35.17 years (SD ± 5.79), all of them from cities in southern Brazil. The couple‘s average cohabitation time was 10.41 years (SD ± 4.41). The average schooling of the mothers was 16.21 years. (SD ± 5.87), and for the fathers it was 15.32 years (SD ± 5.76). With regard to working hours, it was found that the mothers’ average working hours was 34.47 hours per week (SD ± 14.07), and the fathers’ was 40.55 hours per week (SD ± 13.31). The average age of the participating children, 93 boys and 78 girls, was 61.58 months (SD ± 7.93), that is, approximately five years of age. Inclusion criteria were: to have at least one typically developed child between the ages of four and six; fathers and mothers should be over 18 when the child was born; and the couple should have been living together for at least six months.

Instruments

Data were collected through a Sociodemographic Questionnaire (QS) and the Openness to the World Questionnaire (Questionnaire d`Ouverture au Monde - QOM). The QOM was developed and validated in Canada by Paquette, Eugene, Dubeau, and Gagnon (2009Paquette, D., Eugene, M. M., Dubeau, D., & Gagnon, M.-N. (2009). Les pères ont-ils une influence spécifique sur le développement des enfants? [Do fathers have a specific influence on the development of children?]. In D. Dubeau, A. Devault, & G. Forget (Dirs.), La paternité au XXIe siècle [Paternity in the 21st Century] (pp. 99-119). Québec, Canada: Les Presses de l’Université Laval.). The original instrument has 27 items answered on increasing frequency scale between 1 “never” and 6 “very often”, distributed into three dimensions: Stimulus to Perseverance (α = 0.63); Punishment (α = 0.76); and Stimulus to Risk-Taking (α = 0.60). The QOM is in the process of cross-cultural adaptation and validation for the Brazilian population described in an article in submission process. The analysis of the psychometric properties of the instrument for the study population pointed to an explained variance of 36% for the solution by removing nine items and maintaining the three factors: Stimulus to Perseverance (α = 0.74); Stimulus to Risk-Taking (α = 0.74); and Punishment (α = 0.69).

Procedure

Data collection. Families were invited to participate through invitation letter sent by kindergartens, after institutional approval, and by reference of families who had already participated in the research. The collection was performed at the university and participants’ residence or workplace. After the participants signed the Informed Consent Form (ICF), two trained researchers applied the questionnaire with father and mother simultaneously and in separate places.

Data analysis. Data were tabulated and analyzed by the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 22.0. Descriptive statistical analyzes (mean, frequency and standard deviation) were performed to characterize phenomenon and inference - Student’s t-test for related samples in order to compare OW by fathers and mothers. Subsequently, the hierarchical clustering technique with variation minimization criterion (Ward’s method) of Euclidean distance of scores was used to identify different typologies for fathers and mothers. For later designation of the typologies found in this sample, the clusters found were analyzed mainly from the OW classification proposed in the study by Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
), and also considering cultural differences of parenting styles. Finally, descriptive analyzes were performed to characterize the typologies.

Ethical Considerations

This research is part of the project “Parental involvement in the contemporary family context II” approved by the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee, registered under number 1514798 of April 26, 2016.

Results

The results are presented in the following order: description and comparison of both parents’ OW means, and characterization of the typologies.

Characterization and Comparison of Openness to the World by Fathers and Mothers

The data presented in Table 1 show that fathers and mothers reported playing the role of fostering OW mainly through the Stimulus to Perseverance, since, among the three dimensions, these were the highest means for caregivers. Considering that the instrument scores ranged from 1 to 6, and as 6 was the maximum, it can be stated that mothers and fathers had high scores regarding Stimulus to Perseverance, mean scores for Stimulus to Risk-Taking and lower scores for the Punishment dimension.

Table 1
Means, Standard Deviations, and Comparisons of the Dimensions of Openness to the World by Fathers and Mothers

Table 1 also presents the results of the statistical tests for mean differences between fathers and mothers. Only the means for the Stimulus to Perseverance dimension presented statistically significant difference: the mothers reported performing this function more than the fathers; the other dimensions did not present significant differences.

Typologies of Openness to the World for Fathers and Mothers

From analyzes performed, four typologies were identified on how fathers and mothers reported engaging in behaviors related to the three dimensions of OW. In general, all profiles were characterized by a strong Stimulus to Perseverance, standing out in relation to Risk-Taking and Punishment behaviors. As can be seen in Table 2, which presents the fathers’ typology, there was almost no variation in relation to their age among the four profiles, but there was difference in terms of schooling. Almost all mothers reported higher education, and there were no differences between sociodemographic variables of the four maternal profiles, as shown in Table 3.

Table 2
Descriptive Statistics of Sociodemographic Variables and Dimensions of Father Profiles
Table 3
Descriptive Statistics of Sociodemographic Variables and Dimensions of Mother Profiles

The “Activating Father/Mother” profile is related to fathers and mothers who, on average, have higher education, reported strong Stimulus to Perseverance, moderate Stimulus to Risk-Taking, and moderate level of Punishment. This profile is close to that proposed by Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
) as a Prepared Adventurous father; however, the denomination “Activating” was chosen because it is understood that this group of fathers and mothers perform adequate child’s activation, with simultaneous stimulus and discipline.

Members of the “Protective Father/Mother” profile are characterized, in general, by fathers with high school education level who reported encouraging their children to perseverance very often, but little encouragement to their engagement in risky situations, besides low level of punishment, and mothers with higher education, strong Stimulus to Perseverance, moderate Stimulus to Risk-Taking and moderate level of Punishment. Thus, this typology differs from that proposed by Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
) as Overprotective father, since this caregiver group’s discipline is too lax.

The “Reckless Father/Mother” profile brings together high-school-educated fathers with strong Stimulus to Perseverance, strong Stimulus to Risk-Taking and low level of Punishment, and mothers with strong Stimulus to Perseverance, moderate Stimulus to Risk-Taking and low level of Punishment. This group is close to that proposed by Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
) as an Inconsistent father, who encourages the child to take risks but does not protect him/her through discipline. “Reckless” is considered more appropriate than “inconsistent” to define this typology.

Fathers belonging to the “Authoritarian Father” profile generally presented high school education level, moderate level of Stimulus to Perseverance and Punishment, and little Stimulus to Risk-Taking. Thus, they are related to the Overprotective father profile of Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
), but, for cultural reasons, in the Brazilian context it is understood that this typology corresponds to an authoritarian profile. Overprotection is more closely linked to a lack of parental discipline, as found in the “Overprotective Mother” profile, which presents strong Stimulus to Perseverance, moderate Stimulus to Risk-Taking and low level of Punishment.

Discussion

In this study, the role of fostering OW by mothers in southern Brazil was characterized by strong Stimulus to Perseverance, moderate Stimulus to Risk-Taking, and low level of Punishment. It was observed that participants do not engage in the same way in the three dimensions of the role of fostering OW. The high rates of Stimulus to Perseverance reported point to the importance of this dimension in the construction of parenting of these caregivers. This is corroborated by the research of StGeorge, Fletcher, Freeman, Paquette and Dumont (2015StGeorge, J., Fletcher, R., Freeman, E., Paquette, D., & Dumont, C. (2015). Father-child interactions and children’s risk of injury. Early Child Development and Care, 185(9), 1409-1421. doi:10.1080/03004430.2014.1000888
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2014.10...
) on father-child interaction and the risk of children being injured, which indicated Stimulus to Perseverance as a protective factor for children, and Stimulus to Risk-Taking as a risk factor for accidents involving children.

Mean scores related to the Stimulus to Risk-Taking dimension may be due to caregivers’ fear about their children being at risk of injury. On the other hand, it is important to highlight the cultural influence on the stimulation of children to take risky activities, since Canadian children are generally more encouraged to this type of activity than Brazilian children.

The low score for Punishment reported by participants can be considered a protective factor for children, as the literature points to a positive relation between corporal punishment and problems of child behavior and throughout development (Gershoff & Grogan-Kaylor, 2016Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(4), 453-469. doi:10.1037/fam0000191
https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000191...
). From the results, therefore, it can be stated that the participants submit their children to little inappropriate discipline; however, there is no data to understand whether the participants use or not appropriate disciplinary strategies that guarantee the children’s safety during exploration situations.

Comparing the scores reported by fathers and mothers regarding the three dimensions of OW led to the rejection of the hypothesis of this study, which expected that the father would be more involved with the child’s OW than the mother. The results indicate that fathers and mothers differed significantly only in relation to the Stimulus to Perseverance dimension, and that, contrary to expectations, mothers had higher rates than fathers. This result may be justified by the fact that the Stimulus to Perseverance dimension refers mainly to encouraging children in school challenges and in performing activities, among other incentives still closely associated with the mothers’ role. In addition, the fact that the mother works outside the home less hours per week than the father may have interfered with the fact that she is the one who most performs this kind of stimulus.

The absence of a statistically significant difference between fathers and mothers in the Stimulus to Risk-Taking and Punishment dimensions is consistent with studies that advocate distinctions in paternal and maternal involvement, especially regarding the Stimulus to Risk-Taking dimension (Newland & Coyl, 2010Newland, L. A., & Coyl, D. D. (2010). Fathers’ role as attachment figures: An interview with Sir Richard Bowlby. Early Child Development & Care, 180(1-2), 25-32. doi:10.1080/03004430903414679
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341467...
; Newland et al., 2013; Paquette & Bigras, 2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
; Schoppe-Sullivan et al., 2013Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kotila, L., Jia, R., Lang, S. N., & Bower, D. J. (2013). Comparisons of levels and predictors of mothers’ and fathers’ engagement with their preschool aged children. Early Child Development Care, 183(3-4), 498-514. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711596
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
). However, the results are in agreement with the research of Lafond (2014Lafond, K. G. (2014). L’agencement des relations père-enfant et mere-enfant: Liens avec le developpement social d’enfants d’age prescolaire de familles nucleaires [The arrangement of father-child and mother-child relationships: Links to the social development of preschool children of nuclear families] (Master’s thesis). Retrieved from http://savoirs.usherbrooke.ca/handle/11143/6414
http://savoirs.usherbrooke.ca/handle/111...
) and with the literature that considers behavioral differences in the father-child and mother-child relationship a result of culturally constructed gender patterns (Fagan et al., 2014Fagan, J., Day, R., Lamb, M. E., & Cabrera, N. J. (2014). Should researchers conceptualize differently the dimensions of parenting for fathers and mothers? Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6(4), 390-405. doi:10.1111/jftr.12044
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12044...
; Palkovitz et al., 2014Palkovitz, R., Trask, B. S., & Adamsons, K. (2014). Essential differences in the meaning and processes of mothering and fathering: Family systems, feminist and qualitative perspectives. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6(4), 406-420. doi:10.1111/jftr.12048
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12048...
). From this perspective, it is possible to consider that the sociocultural transformations of the last decades have in fact resulted in changes regarding how to be father and mother (Gorin et al., 2015Gorin, M. C., Mello, R., Machado, R. N., & Féres-Carneiro, T. (2015). O estatuto contemporâneo da parentalidade [The contemporary statute of parenthood]. Revista da SPAGESP, 16(2), 3-15. Retrieved from http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1677-29702015000200002
http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?scr...
), on the path to a more egalitarian division in children’s care and education.

It can also be understood that the mother providing stronger Stimulus to Perseverance than the father corresponds to a transition phase in which different family patterns coexist. Some more traditional (more involved mothers and caregivers and more distant fathers) and others more contemporary (equal division of tasks between the couple). This occurs because changes in culture (forming attributions that involve expectations, beliefs and values that influence the parents’ behavior) require some time to transform together with society (Martins, Abreu, & Figueiredo, 2014Martins, C. A., Abreu, W. J. C. P., & Figueiredo, M. C. A. B. (2014). Tornar-se pai e mãe: Um papel socialmente construído [Becoming a father and a mother: A socially constructed role]. Revista de Enfermagem Referência, 4(2), 121-131. doi:10.12707/RIII1394
https://doi.org/10.12707/RIII1394...
).

The definition of typologies of OW for fathers and mothers contributed to an enhanced understanding of the current diversity of ways of exercising parenting. Paternal education was the only highlighted sociodemographic variable among the typologies. Access to information through formal schooling is often related to better parenting practices; therefore, it is possible to interpret that the little Stimulus to Perseverance provided by the “Authoritarian Father” profile, and the little Stimulus to Risk-Taking provided by the “Authoritarian Father” and the “Protective Father” profiles may be related to the lack of knowledge of how these behaviors are important for child development. Moreover, the fact that higher education contributes to discussions and transformations in gender roles, meanings of paternity and changes in family settings may also explain this difference (England & Srivastava, 2013England, P., & Srivastava, A. (2013). Educational differences in US parents’ time spent in child care: The role of culture and cross-spouse influence. Social Science Research, 42(4), 971-988. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2013.03.003
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.201...
).

Also, it can be considered that the moderate level of Punishment by the “Authoritarian Father” profile, without the corresponding child stimulus to exploration, may also be related to a smaller repertoire of appropriate strategies to discipline the children (Böing & Crepaldi, 2016Böing, E., & Crepaldi, M. A. (2016). Relação pais e filhos: Compreendendo o interjogo das relações parentais e coparentais [Relationships between parents and children: Understanding the interplay of the parental and coparental relations]. Educar em Revista, (59), 17-33. doi:10.1590/0104-4060.44615
https://doi.org/10.1590/0104-4060.44615...
), linked to the lower educational level of access to information and reflection on parenting. Research findings relating authoritarian style to negative effects on children’s mental health can be mentioned as example, such as the study by Uji, Sakamoto, Adachi, and Kitamura (2014Uji, M., Sakamoto, A., Adachi, K., & Kitamura, T. (2014). The impact of authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting styles on children’s later mental health in Japan: Focusing on parent and child gender. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(2), 293-302. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9740-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-013-9740-...
). Thus, this profile may be in families which present a traditional pattern of provider father who disciplines his children.

“Authoritarian” and “Protector” paternal profiles, as well as “Protective” and “Overprotective” maternal profiles of OW may be related to underactivated children (Paquette & Bigras, 2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
). According to Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
), underactivation can occur when caregivers discipline and protect the child, but there is little encouragement in relation to engaging or staying in controlled risky situations. This parental behavior can be a risk factor for child development as it does not allow the child to identify and create ways to deal with any kind of risk. This may result in child low self-esteem, excessive insecurity, submission to the authorities and lack of initiative to engage in activities (Paquette & Bigras, 2010). These caregivers need to develop behaviors of Stimulus to Risk-Taking in order to foster self-confidence and autonomy in their children.

The “Reckless” father and mother profiles, in which caregivers provide a lot of stimulation but do not limit boundaries or discipline for the child as pointed out by Brussoni and Olsen (2011Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498. doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821bd1f5
https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0b013e31821b...
), are related to the overactivation described by Paquette and Bigras (2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
). These children tend to have problems regulating aggressiveness, besides peer and authority relationships issues. Intervention strategies in this case should focus on caregivers’ difficulty in establishing rules and boundaries for their children. The results of StGeorge et al. (2015StGeorge, J., Fletcher, R., Freeman, E., Paquette, D., & Dumont, C. (2015). Father-child interactions and children’s risk of injury. Early Child Development and Care, 185(9), 1409-1421. doi:10.1080/03004430.2014.1000888
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2014.10...
) demonstrate positive associations of parental Stimulus to Rik-Taking and low levels of Punishment with higher levels of child injury, which possibly becomes a risk factor for the child. Brussoni and Olsen (2011) also point out that the occurrence of serious injuries during explorations can lead the children to question the caregivers’ ability to protect them.

It is possible to understand the difficulty of these fathers and mothers in disciplining their children from the assumption that they attempt to establish a relationship with their children that is closer than that established between them and their own parents (Gabriel & Dias, 2011Gabriel, M. R., & Dias, A. C. G. (2011). Percepções sobre a paternidade: Descrevendo a si mesmo e o próprio pai como pai [Perceptions about fatherhood: Describing himself and his own father as father]. Estudos de Psicologia (Natal), 16(3), 253-261. doi:10.1590/S1413-294X2011000300007
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-294X201100...
). This occurs because, historically, most of the previous generations had established authoritarian relations with their children. The present generation sometimes, by opposing authoritarianism, has difficulty in properly exercising authority. However, an authoritative caregiver-child relationship favors the creation of an affective bond of trust and respect.

Fathers and mothers who presented high scores for the stimulus dimensions of OW and discipline their children when necessary composed the “Activating” profile. These profiles relate to the adequate children’s activation (Paquette & Bigras, 2010Paquette, D., & Bigras, M. (2010). The risky situation: A procedure for assessing the father-child activation relationship. Early Child Development and Care, 180(1-2), 33-50. doi:10.1080/03004430903414687
https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443090341468...
). These caregivers foster their children’s OW and contribute to the development of their self-confidence, self-control, self-regulation of anxiety and aggressiveness; development of social skills of cooperation, autonomy and competition, besides the skill of how to cope with challenge or danger situations, even in the absence of the caregivers (Dumont & Paquette, 2013Dumont, C., & Paquette, D. (2013). What about the child’s tie to the father? A new insight into fathering, father-child attachment, children’s socio-emotional development and the activation relationship theory. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 430-446. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711592
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
; Gaumon & Paquette, 2013Gaumon, S., & Paquette, D. (2013). The father-child activation relationship and internalising disorders at preschool age. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 447-463. doi:10.1080/03004430.2012.711593
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2012.71...
; Gaumon et al., 2016; Paquette, 2012; Paquette & Bigras, 2010; Paquette, Eugene, Dubeau, & Gagnon, 2009; St. George et al., 2015).

Overall, the results found in this research reflect a transitional period of parenting transformations that have occurred in recent decades (Gorin et al., 2015Gorin, M. C., Mello, R., Machado, R. N., & Féres-Carneiro, T. (2015). O estatuto contemporâneo da parentalidade [The contemporary statute of parenthood]. Revista da SPAGESP, 16(2), 3-15. Retrieved from http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1677-29702015000200002
http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?scr...
; Martins et al., 2014Martins, C. A., Abreu, W. J. C. P., & Figueiredo, M. C. A. B. (2014). Tornar-se pai e mãe: Um papel socialmente construído [Becoming a father and a mother: A socially constructed role]. Revista de Enfermagem Referência, 4(2), 121-131. doi:10.12707/RIII1394
https://doi.org/10.12707/RIII1394...
). The fact that fathers and mothers report similar levels of Stimulus to Risk-Taking and Punishment shows a greater involvement of parents in their children’s lives, as pointed out in the literature (Bossardi et al., 2013Bossardi, C. N., Gomes, L. B., Vieira, M. L., & Crepaldi, M. A. (2013). Engajamento paterno no cuidado a crianças de 4 a 6 anos [Paternal engagement in caring for children of 4-6 years]. Psicologia Argumento, 31(73), 237-246. Retrieved from http://www2.pucpr.br/reol/pb/index.php/pa?dd1=7831&dd99=view&dd98=pb
http://www2.pucpr.br/reol/pb/index.php/p...
; Gomes et al., 2013Gomes, L. B., Crepaldi, M. A., & Bigras, M. (2013). Paternal engagement as an adjustment factor of aggressiveness in preschool students. Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto), 23(54), 21-29. doi:10.1590/1982-43272354201304
https://doi.org/10.1590/1982-43272354201...
). This is relevant, given the positive results linked to paternal participation in the development of children and adolescents from longitudinal studies reported in literature reviews (Gomes et al., 2013; Vieira et al., 2014Vieira, M. L., Bossardi, C. N., Gomes, L. B., Bolze, S. D. A., Crepaldi, M. A., & Piccinini, C. A. (2014). Paternidade no Brasil: Revisão sistemática de artigos empíricos [Paternity in Brazil: A systematic review of empirical articles]. Arquivos Brasileiros de Psicologia, 66(2), 36-52. Retrieved from http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1809-52672014000200004
http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?scr...
).

The differences found in relation to Stimulus to Perseverance by fathers and mothers contribute to the identification of this reality, possibly still an intergenerational legacy of socially constructed parenting gender roles (Palkovitz et al., 2014Palkovitz, R., Trask, B. S., & Adamsons, K. (2014). Essential differences in the meaning and processes of mothering and fathering: Family systems, feminist and qualitative perspectives. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 6(4), 406-420. doi:10.1111/jftr.12048
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12048...
). It is possible to note a society in transition, with families in which mothers are responsible for raising children, and others in which it is the responsibility of the couple. As pointed out by Martins et al. (2014Martins, C. A., Abreu, W. J. C. P., & Figueiredo, M. C. A. B. (2014). Tornar-se pai e mãe: Um papel socialmente construído [Becoming a father and a mother: A socially constructed role]. Revista de Enfermagem Referência, 4(2), 121-131. doi:10.12707/RIII1394
https://doi.org/10.12707/RIII1394...
), parenting practices do not change at the same speed as social demands. In this sense, it is possible to reflect on the contribution of maternal gatekeeping to maintaining maternal responsibility for child development (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013Puhlman, D. J., & Pasley, K. (2013). Rethinking maternal gatekeeping. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 5(3), 176-193. doi:10.1111/jftr.12016
https://doi.org/10.1111/jftr.12016...
). It occurs due to the fact that this phenomenon refers to cultural issues that emphasize women’s responsibility for caring for their children and household chores, contributing to the mother’s regulating whether or not the father can be involved with the child.

This study concludes that, with regard to OW, both fathers and mothers provide strong Stimulus to Perseverance regarding their children, and Punishment is little inflicted. When comparing fathers and mothers, it appears that mothers provide significantly more Stimulus to Perseverance than fathers, which, as already mentioned, refutes the hypothesis of this study. Finally, four typologies for parents and four typologies for mothers were also identified, which allow a better understanding of how they act with their children. These typologies are starting points for understanding how fathers and mothers open their children to the world, and for this reason, more studies need to be conducted with samples from other contexts to promote and broaden knowledge of the subject.

Because of the benefits that OW by caregivers brings to child development, it is suggested that it should be included in public policies aimed at promoting positive parenting. Intervention strategies can be directed to the general public through psychoeducational groups that present, discuss and encourage parental behaviors of fostering OW. However, when considering the parental profiles found, it is also possible to think about creating specific intervention strategies for each typology in order to reflect on their difficulties and enhance their resources.

Thus, this study contributed to the understanding of OW in Brazil, enriching the national literature on ART and on the comparison between fathers and mothers. However, it is also important to highlight study and instrument limitations. Items in the QOM Stimulus to Risk-Taking dimension that remained in the Brazil-adapted version are only those that contain controlled risk situations, unlike the original. This mention is relevant, since the study by StGeorge et al. (2015StGeorge, J., Fletcher, R., Freeman, E., Paquette, D., & Dumont, C. (2015). Father-child interactions and children’s risk of injury. Early Child Development and Care, 185(9), 1409-1421. doi:10.1080/03004430.2014.1000888
https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2014.10...
) showed that the Stimulus to Risk-Taking was identified as a risk factor for accidents with children, which indicates that the instrument has items that contained risk behaviors encouraged by the father that would be inappropriate for children’s safety.

In this sense, it is necessary to revise the QOM to include items that describe the establishment of appropriate rules, limits and reprehensions in the Punishment dimension, besides renaming the dimension, which would become to Discipline. This because even in the Brazilian-population version adapted from the QOM, three out of the five items of the Punishment dimension describe inappropriate discipline behaviors, as the following example: “If my son disobeys me, I punish him severely.” Thus, although theoretically OW presupposes high scores in its three dimensions, it appears that the Punishment dimension needs to be revised, since it is a current negative dimension. Therefore, it is recommended that psychometric studies with this instrument for the Brazilian population should be maintained.

Due to Brazilian socio-cultural diversity, there is still need to expand studies to other country’s regions to verify the generalization of the profiles found. Studies are needed to investigate OW in homosexual couples and in families with children with atypical development, besides analyzes of OW in intra-couple profiles to investigate whether there is indeed a role complementarity between caregivers regarding children’s development. Further research on this function comparing fathers and mothers and different (cross-cultural) cultures is recommended, as well as the use of observational measures in conjunction with self-report questionnaires to improve AR studies.

References

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  • Support: Werner Institute; National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) Grant # 303459/2015-8.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    09 Dec 2019
  • Date of issue
    2019

History

  • Received
    10 Nov 2017
  • Reviewed
    28 May 2018
  • Reviewed
    02 July 2018
  • Accepted
    06 Aug 2018
Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Filosofia Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psicologia Av.Bandeirantes 3900 - Monte Alegre, 14040-901 Ribeirão Preto - São Paulo - Brasil, Tel.: (55 16) 3315-3829 - Ribeirão Preto - SP - Brazil
E-mail: paideia@usp.br