Understanding Men’s Prenatal Experience and the Father Involvement Connection: Assessing Baby Steps


Sociology Department, P.O. Box 117330, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-7330 (marsig@soc.ufl.edu).


Cabrera, Fagan, and Farrie’s research provides a useful springboard to encourage scholars to think broadly and productively about theoretical, substantive, methodological, and social intervention issues related to men’s prenatal experiences, transitional life course events, and subsequent engagement with their young children. To their credit, the authors have taken valuable “baby steps” on the path to building a more nuanced understanding of the conditions and processes comprising this complex matrix of phenomena. The authors make a unique contribution to the literature by using panel data to examine how three factors, defined as “life transitions” (father identity salience, fathers’ relationship quality and residential status with the child’s mother, fathers’ employment status), might mediate the link between unmarried prospective fathers’ prenatal and postnatal experiences. In the spirit of advancing a research agenda in this area, I stress the merits and limitations of the data Cabrera and her colleagues use while elaborating conceptual and methodological themes to guide future research.