Fathers' perpetration of intimate partner violence and parenting during early childhood: Results from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study

Child Abuse Negl. 2019 Oct;96:104103. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104103. Epub 2019 Aug 2.


Background: Experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization negatively impact maternal parenting. However, little is known about the association between fathers' perpetration of IPV and paternal parenting.

Objective: To examine associations between fathers' IPV perpetration against the child's mother and fathers' stimulation and spanking practices with their young child.

Participants and setting: We used two waves of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study in the United States. The analytic sample comprised of 2,257 biological fathers who had been in a romantic relationship with the child's mother.

Methods: Fathers' IPV perpetration at year 1 and 3 was measured based on maternal report. Fathers were categorized into: never perpetrators (no IPV at either year), persisters (IPV at both years), desisters (IPV at year 1 only), and emergers (IPV at year 3 only). Fathers' parenting at year 3 was measured based on self-reported stimulation (e.g., reading books, playing games, telling stories) and spanking.

Results: Approximately one-third of fathers never perpetrated IPV, 35.8% were persisters, 14.4% were desisters, and 16.9% were emergers. For stimulation, persisters (β=-0.16, 95% CI: -0.25, -0.06) and emergers (β=-0.25, 95% CI: -0.36, -0.14), but not desisters (β=-0.02, 95% CI: -0.14, 0.11), were less engaged in stimulation than fathers who never perpetrated IPV. However, for spanking, there were no differences in the associations by father IPV profiles.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that fathers' perpetration of IPV is related to their stimulation practices. Partner-abusive men and their children may benefit from parenting programs that promote engagement in stimulation and improve the quality of parent-child relationships.

Keywords: Fathers; Fragile families; Intimate partner violence; Parenting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Abuse
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Male
  • Parenting*
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States