Paternal dimensions and complexities: Understanding the relationships between parental dyads and fathers’ involvement among Black fathers with criminal records

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Family Social Work

Publication Date


Date Added



The benefits of fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives are well documented. However, the effect of incarceration, especially among Black families, has contributed to disbanded family bonds. Spells of incarceration disrupt family relationships and having a criminal record, results in formerly incarcerated men being jobless and unable to financially contribute to their families. Fatherhood encompasses more than being the sole household income earner and father involvement is complex, particularly, within contemporary family structures (Jones & Mosher, 2013). Incarceration, especially, among Black fathers has been associated with family dissolution and reduced financial wellbeing (Oliver, 2001; Roberts, 2004; Western & Wildemann, 2009).This study analyzed factors associated with fathers’ involvement with their children among Black fathers with criminal records. Fathers’ involvement was conceptualized using Lamb, Pleck, and Levine’s (1985) Threefold Typology, which included fathers’ level of engagement, accessibility, and responsibility with their children. These three components of father involvement were the dependent variables. This study utilized secondary analysis of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) or “Fragile Families” study. Among Black fathers with criminal records, this study explored relationships among fathers’ involvement, sociodemographic characteristics, and parental dyads. This study found variations among factors associated with three dimensions of father involvement.




Social Work