Despite ample evidence supporting the positive and important role fathers play in youth well-being, currently little is known about the potential buffering effects of positive father-child relationships on adolescent behavioral functioning, especially within the context of child maltreatment. Clarifying whether positive parent-child relationships are helpful in the presence of maltreatment perpetrated by the same or another parent is critical for designing and implementing successful family-based interventions for positive youth development. Thus, the present study aimed to investigate the unique and combined effects of the perpetrator of child maltreatment (i.e., maltreatment perpetrated by fathers versus mothers alone) and father-child relationship quality on adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. A series of Ordinary Least Squares multiple regressions were conducted on a sample of 14-year-old high-risk youth (N = 661) drawn from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect. The results indicated that both father-perpetrated maltreatment and mother-alone maltreatment were associated with higher levels of internalizing and externalizing problems. Higher quality of father-child relationships was associated with lower levels of internalizing but was not significantly associated with externalizing problems. Higher quality father-child relationships had a buffering impact against adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems when adolescents were maltreated by mothers alone. The findings suggest that policy and practical efforts seeking to build resilience of youth should strive to nurture and leverage positive, non-maltreating father-child relationships. Such efforts may support the positive development of adolescents, even in the face of mother-perpetrated maltreatment.
- behavior problems
- child abuse and neglect
- parent-child relationship quality
- perpetrator identity