Background: The frequency of parental separation means that increasing numbers of children have fathers who live in different households from mother-and-child; the significance of contact and relationships between children and their non-resident fathers for children's adjustment is receiving growing attention. Lessons from this research are considered.
Methods: Recent meta-analyses and overviews of research, and key research projects, are discussed. Findings related to contact and relationship quality are the main focus of the annotation.
Results: Economic support from non-resident fathers is related to children's well-being, and continues to be a key factor. Findings on contact are more mixed, especially from early studies; the effect size of associations between contact and positive child outcome has increased in recent research. Quality of child-father relationships is consistently related to adjustment outcome. Authoritative parenting, involvement and feelings of closeness are of particular importance in relation to adjustment, and these links are related to the quality of mother-non-resident father relations, and the mother-child relationship. Age differences, patterns over time, and gender are discussed; the perspectives of fathers and the problems they face in maintaining authoritative relationships are considered.
Conclusions: The significance of child-non-resident father relationships for children's and fathers' well-being is clear and merits further research; fruitful new directions for such research, within the framework of other family relationships, are outlined.