depression, fathering, gender, maternal gatekeeping, masculinity


Maternal gatekeeping has been associated with reductions in father involvement and can have a negative impact on the family. Few researchers, however, have focused on how characteristics of the father contribute to gatekeeping. Consequently, this brief report is focused on associations between father depression, father adherence to masculine norms, and father reports of maternal gatekeeping. We further test whether a father's adherence to traditional masculine norms interacts with the relationship between depression and father reports of maternal gatekeeping. This study adds to the current literature on both maternal gatekeeping and father mental health. Participants in this study include 2,214 fathers from the Survey of Contemporary Fatherhood including 73% White, 10% African American, 11% Hispanic/Latinx, and 6% from other races. It was found that fathers who reported higher levels of depression also reported higher levels of maternal gatekeeping; masculinity moderated this association. The link between depression and gatekeeping was amplified when men adhered to masculine norms. Those fathers who were highest in depression and highest in masculinity were also highest in their reports of maternal gatekeeping. Although gatekeeping has historically been considered a problematic behavior, our findings suggest that when a mother's gatekeeping is correlated with potential fathering risk factors (such as depression and masculine norm adherence), gatekeeping may be a tool a mother uses to protect her children.

Original Publication Citation

*Thomas, C., and Holmes, E. K. (2020). Are father depression and masculinity associated with father perceptions of maternal gatekeeping? Journal of Family Psychology, 34(4), 490-495. First published on-line November 2019.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Family Psychology




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor