Profiles of Disciplinary Behaviors Among Biological Fathers

This study assesses fathers' discipline of their 3-year-old child. Data are from 1,238 mother and father participants in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Latent class analysis (LCA) of nonaggressive and aggressive behaviors, as reported by mothers, indicated four distinct paternal disciplinary profiles: low discipline, low aggression, moderate physical aggression, and high physical and psychological aggression. Serious forms of psychological aggression directed toward the child were uncommon but may identify those fathers most in need of intervention. Use of nonaggressive discipline was high and nearly equivalent among the parenting profiles. However, child aggressive behavior increased as the child's exposure to paternal aggression increased, even when aggressive discipline was combined with high levels of nonaggressive discipline. Fathers who exhibited more aggression toward their child had higher levels of alcohol use, used more psychological aggression toward the child's mother, and were more likely to spank their child.