This study examines whether fathers' parental warmth and parenting stress were associated with behavior problems when children were approximately 36-months of age, beyond the influence of maternal behaviors. Study participants were 3,342 low-income fathers and mothers who participated in the Building Strong Families (BSF) study. Cross-sectional regression analyses indicated that for unmarried nonresidential families, fathers' parental warmth and parenting stress were associated with child internalizing behavior problems; and fathers' parenting stress only was marginally associated with child externalizing behavior problems. For consistently cohabiting residential fathers, only fathers' parenting stress was marginally associated with child internalizing behavior problems. No associations of fathers' parental warmth and parenting stress on either internalizing or externalizing behavior problems were observed in married families. Overall, study results suggest that fathers' parental warmth and parenting stress may have a modest positive association on the development of child internalizing behavior problems particularly in vulnerable families (e.g., families in which fathers were nonresidential).
Keywords: Building Strong Families; father-child relationship; fragile families; parental warmth; parenting stress.