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Keywords:

  • Coparenting;
  • father involvement;
  • fathering;
  • maternal gatekeeping;
  • parental relationships

This article offers a new definition and an expanded conceptual model of maternal gatekeeping derived from the extant literature and critiques offered by scholars and applied to fathering. Typically, maternal gatekeeping is conceptualized as the mothers' ability to restrict fathers' involvement with children. We redefine maternal gatekeeping as a set of complex behavioral interactions between parents, where mothers influence father involvement through their use of controlling, facilitative, and restrictive behaviors directed at father's childrearing and interaction with children on a regular and consistent basis. We propose a three-dimensional model (control, encouragement, and discouragement) in which each dimension operates along continua and intersects to result in 8 types of gatekeeping. We explain these types and describe examples of behaviors in terms of their influence on father involvement. We end with suggestions for developing a measure of maternal gatekeeping and for applying the model to better understand how gatekeeping influences and is influenced by family patterns and characteristics.