Maternal vs. Paternal Warmth and Rejection

It may be the case that the impact of maternal warmth (or rejection) and paternal warmth (or rejection) are different. In most societies, mothers have traditionally borne the majority of child care duties, particularly among young children. In these societies, it is not uncommon for fathers to have little or no involvement with children, and some traditions have even fostered a father figure who is typically cold and distant. One might posit that the impact of maternal warmth and rejection should be stronger than that of paternal warmth and rejection based on this cultural precedent. In many studies, the authors only measure maternal attachment or maternal warmth, in part because of this assumption, and also due to the greater availability of mothers for data collection. We now have a body of research that includes evidence about paternal warmth and we will discuss that below.

Veneziano (2003) reviewed the literature and concluded that paternal warmth and nurturance have many beneficial outcomes, including reducing general delinquency and conduct problems. He concludes that a significant body of work “now supports the conclusion that paternal warmth and nurturance is at least as important for offspring development as maternal warmth and nurturance” (p. 268). We will see if we concur with this assessment for violent outcomes.

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