A new study has found that fathers who report that a birth was mistimed or unwanted are likely to be less involved in caring for and playing with their young children.

One-third of resident fathers and two thirds of non-resident fathers report having a child from a mistimed or unwanted pregnancy, making this finding a significant factor in assessing children’s wellbeing.

Interviews obtained from 2,764 fathers in the US in 2002-10 through the National Survey of Family Growth were analysed by Dr Laura D. Lindberg and colleagues.

Men who reported a mistimed pregnancy were more likely to be non-resident fathers; and among non-resident fathers, those who reported a mistimed pregnancy visited their children less often (especially their daughters). But even among resident fathers, those who reported a mistimed pregnancy interacted less with their children.

Both resident and non-resident fathers who report a mistimed pregnancy were likely to rate their parenting more negatively.

Although the number of fathers in the sample who reported unwanted pregnancies was too small to be able to draw statistically significant conclusions, the associations were similar to the associations with mistimed pregnancies.

See more information about mistimed and unwanted pregnancies and other related studies on the consequences of unintended childbearing.

Header photo: Jagdish Choudhary. Creative Commons.

References

Lindberg LD, Kost K & Maddow-Zimet I (2016), The role of men’s childbearing intentions in father involvement, Journal of Marriage and Family