Perceived paternal nurturance and the development of control orientations in children
Ades, Yves Joseph
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This study sought to explore the relationship between children's perceptions of their fathers' nurturant availability, and children's perceptions of their own controllability, i.e. internal vs. external locus of control. Founded in separation-individuation theory, the developmental underpinning of this study is that as the child separates from the magical omnipotent and symbiotic involvement with mother, he/she looks towards father for support in the achievement of a sense of mastery and control in the other-than-mother-world. The construct Locus of Control was used to operationalize this achievement. Based upon previous research on fathering, it was proposed that fathers play a specific role in their children's attainment of separation and psychological individuation. It was suggested that children who perceive their fathers as available, nurturant, and non-rejecting would have benefitted from the paternal support necessary for relinquishing the primitive symbiotic tie to mother, and achieving a selfhood characterized by the belief that outcomes of interaction with the "world" are a result of one's own action upon it.;Forty-four intact families participated in this effort. Paternal nurturance was measured by the Bronfenbrenner Parent Behavior Questionnaire, and locus of control with the Intellectual Achievement Responsibility Questionnaire. In addition to children's reports of paternal characteristics, comparable reports of father's self-perception and mother's perception of father were also derived using adapted versions of the parent behavior measure.;Strong support for the proposed connection between variables was not evidenced by the data. Although there were some significant correlations in the expected direction, these were minor and not strong enough that children's locus of control in academic achievement situations is related to their perceptions of paternal nurturance and availability.;Issues in sample recruitment and limitations of the locus of control construct are discussed as methodological problems affecting future research in this area. Alternative approaches are suggested, with particular attention to advances in instrumentation that isolate dimensions of locus of control that would be more relevant to this study's emphasis.