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When fathers are involved: Examining relational and psychosocial health among military families

APA Citation:

Mallette, J. K., O’Neal, C. W., Richardson, E. W., & Mancini, J. A. (2021). When fathers are involved: Examining relational and psychosocial health among military families. Family Process, 60(2), 602-622. https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12566

Abstract Created by REACH:

Literature from civilian populations indicates that father involvement (e.g., helping kids with homework) is beneficial (e.g., psychosocially) not only for children but for other family members as well. However, less is known about father involvement in military contexts. Using a risk and resilience perspective and family systems theory, this study examined how father involvement was associated with the well-being (i.e., depression, life satisfaction, and self-efficacy) of active-duty fathers, civilian mothers, and their adolescents in a sample of 207 families. Additionally, this study explored how the associations between father involvement and well-being vary depending on aspects of military life (e.g., rank, deployment) as well as healthy family flexibility (i.e., the ability to adapt to challenges) and marital quality. Father involvement was associated with fathers’ own and other family members’ well-being, particularly in the context of high marital quality.



Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Child of a service member or veteran
Military families
Spouse of service member or veteran


School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Mallette, Jacquelyn K., O'Neal, Catherine Walker, Winkelman Richardson, Evin, Mancini, Jay A.


Father involvement can promote the psychosocial health of family members (i.e., fathers, mothers, and children). However, the association between father involvement and individual members' psychosocial health may depend on the quality of the marital relationship and the perceptions of the reporting family member. Research with multiple reporters from the same family is needed identify how family members perceive the impact of father involvement on family member well-being. Using a risk and resilience theoretical framework applied to a family systems perspective, the current study examines associations between father involvement, family flexibility, marital quality, and psychosocial health with a sample of 207 military families (including fathers, mothers, and their adolescents). After accounting for military context, a conditional structural equation model was used to examine the associations between fathers' involvement and family members' psychosocial health. Family flexibility was examined as a mediator between these associations and marital quality as a moderator. Findings suggest that when fathers are more involved, both mothers and fathers report less family flexibility, and that family flexibility was positively associated with family member (father, mother, and adolescent) well-being. Further, father involvement was indirectly related to mothers' psychosocial health through family flexibility, and father involvement was directly associated with better psychosocial health for fathers and adolescents. Marital quality moderated these associations for fathers, mothers, and adolescents. Given the combined benefits of father involvement, family flexibility, and positive marital relationships, clinical efforts to provide information to increase knowledge and skills around maintaining a healthy relationship could serve to promote psychosocial health by improving marital quality and family flexibility.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

John Wiley & Sons

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

East Carolina University, JKM
University of Georgia, CWO
University of Georgia, EWR
University of Georgia, JAM
Virginia Tech, JAM


family functioning, father involvement, military, psychosocial health, resilience

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Grant Number: 2009‐48680‐06069

REACH Newsletter:

  October 2020

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