Fathers' perpetration of intimate partner violence and parenting during early childhood: Results from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study

Publication Year


Journal Article

Experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization negatively impact maternal parenting. However, little is known about the association between fathers' perpetration of IPV and paternal parenting.

To examine associations between fathers' IPV perpetration against the child's mother and fathers' stimulation and spanking practices with their young child.

Participants and Setting
We used two waves of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study in the United States. The analytic sample comprised of 2,257 biological fathers who had been in a romantic relationship with the child's mother. Methods Fathers' IPV perpetration at year 1 and 3 was measured based on maternal report. Fathers were categorized into: never perpetrators (no IPV at either year), persisters (IPV at both years), desisters (IPV at year 1 only), and emergers (IPV at year 3 only). Fathers' parenting at year 3 was measured based on self-reported stimulation (e.g., reading books, playing games, telling stories) and spanking.

Approximately one-third of fathers never perpetrated IPV, 35.8% were persisters, 14.4% were desisters, and 16.9% were emergers. For stimulation, persisters (β=-0.16, 95% CI: -0.25, -0.06) and emergers (β=-0.25, 95% CI: -0.36, -0.14), but not desisters (β=-0.02, 95% CI: -0.14, 0.11), were less engaged in stimulation than fathers who never perpetrated IPV. However, for spanking, there were no differences in the associations by father IPV profiles.

Findings suggest that fathers' perpetration of IPV is related to their stimulation practices. Partner-abusive men and their children may benefit from parenting programs that promote engagement in stimulation and improve the quality of parent-child relationships.

Child Abuse & Neglect