INTRODUCTION The adolescent years are a period of tremendous change in a young person’s life. There are biological changes such as rapid physical growth and the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Adolescents also experience a change in their cognitive abilities. At this stage they are able to think abstractly and solve problems in a logical manner. It is during this time that young people also begin to develop a sense of identity or self-esteem. There are several factors that can help shape self-esteem such as personal performance and peer acceptance. Another important factor is the style of parenting the young person receives. Adolescents who receive positive parental support generally have higher self-esteem. They tend to be cheerful and social and do well in school while those with low self-esteem tend to be depressed and shy and are more likely to become involved in substance abuse (Plotnik, 1999). Few would argue that a father’s role is less important than that of the mother, yet most research to date has focused on the relationship between mother and child. Perhaps this is because traditionally, the primary role of the father was that of breadwinner and disciplinarian. To provide nurturance and emotional support was considered a mother’s domain. During the 1960`s,however, many mothers entered the work force and fathers were expected to take a more active role in all aspects of parenting. Still, this expectation was conditional. That is to say, fathers were expected to be more involved in parenting their children as long as it did not interfere with their primary role of breadwinner (Lamb, Pleck and Levine, 1987). Of course, due to separation and divorce, many children have fathers who are absent from the home and may have little or no involvement in their lives. Moreover, there are other factors besides the responsibilities of the workplace that affect the level of paternal involvement. One of these is the gender of the children. Fathers tend to spend more time with sons than daughters but a daughter may get more attention from her father if she has a brother. One study, (Elder and Bowerman, 1963), showed that the lowest level of paternal involvement occurred in families with all female children. What effect might a lack of or limited level of paternal involvement have on adolescent girls? Existing literature suggests that women may be deeply affected by their relationships with their fathers. Little research has been done concerning father-daughter relationships and what does exist mainly involves absent or abusive fathers and their daughter’s problems with developing and maintaining intimate relationships later in life (Perkins, 2001). These studies suggest that fathers may have a considerable impact on their daughters’ self-esteem and greatly influence her choice of romantic partners (Scheffler and Naus, 1999). The purpose of this study is to determine whether there is a relationship between the amount and quality of paternal involvement and amount of risk-taking behavior in women.
METHOD Participants Fifty-two female students enrolled in psychology classes at Missouri Western State College.Their ages were 18-34. Materials Two questionnaires: The first a Leikert type scale designed to rate amount and quality of paternal involvement (see appendix A). This questionnaire included items such as: Dad seemed to enjoy the time we spent together. Items were rated as follows:Strongly Disagree 1, Disagree 2, Agree 3, Strongly Agree 4. The second questionnaire is a scale designed to identify risk-taking behaviors (see appendix B). It required yes or no answers and included items such as: Have you ever had unprotected sex? Yes __ No __ A yes answer will count as one point and a no as zero.
Procedure Copies of both surveys were stapled together and distributed to students in psychology classes at Missouri Western State College. Students were asked to provide their age and sex but not their names. They were asked to answer the questions as honestly as possible since their anonymity was guaranteed. Only those surveys completed by female students were used for this study.
RESULTS Scores from both surveys were compared using a Pearson Correlation Analysis. Although a weak correlation in the expected direction was found, results were not significant (r(50)=-.061,p>.05.
DISCUSSIONPrevious studies suggest a link between paternal involvement and women`s self-esteem and also a link between self-esteem and substance abuse. Because of this it was expected that students who had low scores on the relationship scale would score higher on the risk-taking scale. Although a weak correlation was found, results did not support this hypothesis. Age of the respondants may have been a factor. The mean age of the women surveyed was 19. At this age, many still live with parents (a situation which may inhibit risk-taking behaviors). Also, respondants with low scores on the relationship scale may have received positive support from a stepfather, uncle or other adult male.It is also possible that they received support from their mothers that was sufficient to negate the effects of neglect on the father`s part.In any event, I feel it is important to develop some way of identifying girls who are at risk of developing behaviors which may be harmful to them.Directions for further research would include controlling for age and other sources of parenting.
REFERANCES Elder, G. H., Jr. & Bowerman, C. E. (1963). Family structure and child-rearing patterns: The effect of family size and sex composition. American Sociological Review, 28, 891-905.Lamb, M. E., Pleck, J. H. & Levine, J. A. (1987). Effects of increased paternal involvement on fathers and mothers. Pp. 109-125 in C. Lewis & M. O’Brien (Eds.), Researching fatherhood. London: Sage.Perkins, R. M. (2001). The father-daughter relationship: Familial interactions that impact a daughter’s style of life. College Student Journal, 35, 616-627. Plotnik, R. (1999). Introduction to psychology (5th ed.) Wadsworth: Belmont.Scheffler, T. S. & Naus, P. J. (1999). The relationship between fatherly affirmation and a woman’s self-esteem, fear of intimacy, comfort with womanhood and comfort with sexuality. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 8, 39-46.
APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIRE Appendix AAge__Sex__
1. My dad and I spent lots of quality time together. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___2. My dad was very supportive.Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 3. Friends used to say that they wished their dads were more like mine.Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 4. Dad seemed to enjoy the time we spent together. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 5. I admire my dad and would like to be more like him. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 6. Dad attended as many of my school functions, recitals, games, etc. as possible. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 7. I always felt I could talk to dad about anything. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 8. Dad praised me for my accomplishments. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___ 9. Dad showed me unconditional love. Strongly Disagree ___ Disagree ___ Agree ___ Strongly Agree ___
APPENDIX B QUESTIONNAIRE Appendix B
1. Do you smoke cigarettes? Yes ___ No ___2. Have you ever had unprotected sex? Yes ___ No ___3. Do you binge drink? Yes ___ No ___4. Have you ever shoplifted? Yes ___ No ___5. Have you ever driven while under the influence? Yes ___ No ___6. Have you ever taken illegal drugs? Yes ___ No ___7. Have you ever hitchhiked or picked up a hitchhiker? Yes ___ No ___8 Would you consider becoming romantically involved with someone who had abused a partner in the past? Yes ___ No ___