Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Broken families - Mother-father relationships deteriorate four years after birth of child, study shows

Published:Friday | June 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Maureen Samms Vaughan (left), professor of child health, child development, and behaviour, UWI principal investigator of JA KIDS, in discussion with Dr Marta Favara, senior research officer, Young Lives, University of Oxford, and Professor Michael Lambert, University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, at the JA KIDS Birth Cohort study 2011 conference at the Sir Kenneth Standard Lecture Theatre, UWI Mona, Kingston, yesterday.

Recently disclosed data have shown significant deterioration in the relationship between mothers and the fathers of their children by the time the infant reaches four years old.

The research examined families that had babies born between July and September 2011. According to data from the Registrar General Department, 11,124 babies were born during the period of study.

However, the probe captured 9,600 mothers, which represented about 86 per cent of the total. Three thousand, four hundred and ten fathers also participated in the study.

Figures presented by lead researcher Professor Maureen Samms Vaughn yesterday at the JA KIDS at the start of a two-day conference at the University of the West Indies, Mona, showed that while 91 cent of mothers acknowledged that they were in a relationship with the father of the child at birth, by age four, there was significant slippage in the numbers.

Nine months after birth, the data showed, 87.3 per cent of mothers were reporting that they were still in a relationship with the child's father. The fall-off was not very noticeable between 12 and 18 months after birth, with 87 per cent reporting that they were still in a relationship with the father.

However, by the time the child reached four years old, 63 per cent of mothers reported that they were still in a relationship with the father.

The data showed that at year four, 45 per cent of the fathers were living with the child.

The numbers were a bit stronger, the lead researcher said, as it related to the men actually playing a father role in the child's life after four years, whether or not there was a relationship between the mother and father. Samms Vaughn said that 72 per cent of fathers were present in the lives of their kids, playing the father figure role by year four.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com