Psychosocial maturity of older fathers: Ego development, generativity and the costs and rewards of fatherhood

Date of Completion

January 2000


Gerontology|Psychology, Developmental|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Ninety-six older fathers of adult children aged 23 and over ( M = 67.4 years, SD = 7.23) responded to a written survey investigating the effect of cognitive (ego development) and affective (generativity) processes on the evaluation of the costs and rewards of fatherhood. ^ Fathers were classified as Rewarded (N = 32) (high rewards and low costs), Intense (N = 14) (high rewards and high costs), Detached (N = 12) (low rewards and low costs) and Disadvantaged (N = 33) (low rewards and high costs). Rewarded, Detached, and Impoverished fathers' item sums averaged (M = 92.3) in the Conscientious ego level, while Intense fathers averaged ( M = 87.4) in the Self-Aware level. In this way, fathers who report high rewards and high costs of fatherhood were likely to score lower on the ego level item sums and levels. Scheffe post hocs demonstrated significant differences (p < .05) between Rewarded fathers and Disadvantaged fathers in terms of generativity with Rewarded fathers reporting significantly higher feelings of generativity (p < .05). Feelings of generativity significantly predicted the rewards of fatherhood (F (1,93) = 6.866, p = .010, R 2 = .069) and the costs of fatherhood (F (1,88) = 16.210, p < .000, R2 = .156). Lack of generativity significantly predicted the costs of fatherhood (F (1,88) = 5.790, p = .018, R 2 = .062), but not the rewards of fatherhood (F (1,93) = .734, p = .394). ^ Structural Equation Modeling was used to examine the relationships and interactions between the manifest indicators of generativity, lack of generative concern, ego level, and the costs and rewards of fatherhood. The overall model has a Φ2 fit index of 10.640 (p = .059) with a significant path between psychosocial maturity and the experience of (β = .533, critical ratio = 2.766, p < .05). The measures of fit (GFI = .958, CFI = .921, TLI = .841) suggest adequate fit between the model and the data. The results of this study suggest that cognitive (ego level) and affective (generativity) processes contribute to the overall psychosocial maturity of fathers and that maturity levels influence the evaluation of fatherhood. The conclusions, limitations, and recommendations for future research is discussed in light of these results. ^