Types of Developmental Change

Developmental issues need to be addressed more fully to include children at a wider range of ages. Moreover, we need to move beyond childhood and examine more closely father relationships with their adult children—if we are to achieve a lifespan view of fathering. Although development traditionally has marked change in the individual child, it is evident from this review that this perspective is too limited, and fathers, as well as children, continue to develop across time (Parke, 1988, 1990, 1996). Fathers' management of a variety of life course tasks, such as marriage, work, and personal identity, will clearly determine how they will execute parental tasks; in turn, these differences may find expression in measures of father-child interaction. Because developmental shifts in children's perceptual, cognitive, and social development in turn may alter parental attitudes and behaviors and the nature of the adults' own developmentally relevant choices, such as work or career commitment, this clearly argues for the recognition of two developmental trajectories—a child developmental course and an adult developmental sequence. The description of the interplay between these two types of developmental curves is necessary to capture adequately the nature of developmental changes in a father's role in the family (Parke, 1988, 1990).

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