Understanding the roots of mothers' expectations for fathers

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Wilson, Candice
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University of Guelph

Current research exploring barriers to responsible fathering highlights the important role that mothers have in promoting father involvement. Despite these findings, there is little research looking at the origins of mothers' expectations for fathers. This study begins to develop a model for understanding maternal expectations. The model identifies two forms of mothers' expectations. Expressed Expectations are verbal statements that mothers make indicating what they expect done. Enacted Expectations are more subtle ways of acting and reacting to fathers providing information about mothers' expectations. The findings suggest that expressed expectations are influenced by socio-cultural influences, while enacted expectations are closer to family of origin influences. This model explains why women express one expectation and then react in contradictory ways when fathers act on those expressions. The model also indicates that migration and acculturation can alter mothers' enacted expectations, aligning them with sociocultural influences rather than their family of origin.

barriers, responsible fathering, mothers, father involvement, maternal expectations, expressed expectations, enacted expectations