fathers, father-child interaction, father-child relations, mother-child relations


Guided by a systemic ecological framework for father involvement, we investigate children's, mothers', and fathers' contributions to observed father-child interaction. Analyses of 586 married resident fathers, their wives, and a target first-grade child (participants in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care) demonstrate that an additive model of father involvement accounts for the quality of father-child interaction better than a model which focuses on only one component of the system. Father parenting beliefs, child language skills, child social skills, maternal employment, and dyadic mother-child interaction quality each additively and significantly contribute to positive father-child interaction. Father average income and education levels relate to dyadic interaction, but individual and family characteristics account for their effects. Moderational analyses resulted in a significant interaction between father parenting beliefs and child social skills, providing preliminary support for the systemic ecological assumption that father-child interaction is better understood in a model that is not only additive but also interactive.

Original Publication Citation

Holmes, E. K., and Huston, A. C. (2010). Understanding positive father-child interaction: Children’s, fathers’, and mothers’ contributions. Fathering: A Journal of Research, Theory, and Practice About Men As Fathers, 8(2), 203-225.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor