fathering, marital intimacy, parenting


Although scholars have documented many links between marital relationships and parenting, these associations are not commonly explained in terms of behavior that is learned or achieved over time. This paper examines the idea that good fathering – conceptualized here as competent fathering – is the result of a developmental process, and that a loving, committed relationship between parents creates a context in which traits supportive of caring fathering are likely to be learned and practiced. After setting the stage conceptually, we provide a modest initial test of this hypothesis to discern the associations between three components of marital intimacy (emotional intimacy, commitment, and passion) and fathering. Results yielded positive, moderate concurrent associations between marital intimacy and fathering, and positive, low associations between these variables longitudinally. These associations give a degree of support to the notion of fathering as a developmental process, and confirm the sensitivity of fathering to the marital context.

Original Publication Citation

Bradford, K. P., & Hawkins, A. J. (2006). Learning competent fathering: A longitudinal analysis of marital intimacy and fathering. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice About Men As Fathers, 4(3), 215-234.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice About Men As Fathers




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor