Time versus Money: What Contributes to Children and Nonresident Fathers’ Perceptions of Closeness?

Allison Dwyer, Cornell University
Elise Paul, Cornell University
Maureen Waller, Cornell University

Despite evidence that children’s feelings of closeness to their nonresident fathers are predictive of youth outcomes, there is limited research directly comparing nonresident father and child reports of father-child closeness or identifying factors associated with discrepant reports. This paper utilizes unique data from matched nonresident father-child dyads in the Fragile Families Survey (N=860) to examine whether fathers’ investments of time are more predictive of closeness and consistency in father-child reports than are their economic investments in their children. Findings from multivariate models show that fathers’ socioemotional involvement and contact were closely related to both child and father-reported closeness and that socioemotional involvement was also associated with more agreement in their reports. Although nonresident fathers’ in-kind contributions predicted father-reported closeness, their formal child support contributions were not linked to either the child or fathers’ perceptions of relationship quality.

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Presented in Poster Session 9: Children and Youth; Data and Methods