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Fathers' Perspectives on Coparenting in the Context of Child Feeding

Khandpur, Neha, Charles, Jo, Davison, Kirsten K.
Childhood obesity 2016 v.12 no.6 pp. 455-462
child nutrition, childhood obesity, children, data analysis, diet, eating habits, fathers, interviews, mothers, parenting, planning, snacks
Background: In a diverse sample of fathers, this study examined coparenting dynamics specific to (1) how fathers managed responsibilities for food parenting with the child's mother and (2) the extent to which their food parenting practices were co-operative versus conflicting with those of the mother.Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 37 fathers (38 ± 9.1 years) using a piloted interview guide. Interview questions focused on the division of responsibility in food parenting practices, experiences of consistent versus conflicting practices, and the source and consequences of conflicting practices. The data were analyzed in QSR NVivo 10 using thematic analysis.Results: Sixty-two percent (N = 23) of fathers reported sharing food parenting responsibilities with the child's mother. Among the remaining fathers, approximately half reported being solely responsible for food parenting (N = 6) and half reported that the mother was solely responsible (N = 8). Fathers reported using a variety of approaches to manage planning, procuring, and preparing food with mothers. Cooperative food parenting practices were reported by approximately half of the fathers in this sample. A large percentage of fathers (40%) also reported instances of conflicting food parenting practices. Conflicting practices typically focused on access to energy-dense, nutrient-poor snacks and introducing variety into the diet. Dissimilarities in practices were driven by differences in parental eating habits, feeding philosophies, and concern for child health, and often resulted in child tantrums or refusal to eat.Conclusions: This study identifies potential sources of inconsistencies in components of coparenting that would be important to address in future interventions.