Fathers' parental involvement and accessibility as predictors of daughters' age of menarche: Testing the life history theory (LHT-P) in a non-WEIRD context

  • Tlotlo C. Thutoemang University of Botswana, Botswana
  • Seth Oppong University of Botswana, Botswana
Keywords: Father parental involvement, menarche, life history theory, paternal accessibility


This study examined whether fathers’ parental involvement level and their accessibility have any effects on the age at which their daughters experience menarche in a non-western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (non-WEIRD) population. We noted the current debates on the use and application of the LHT framework in explaining human variations in life histories and adopted the recommendations. Thus, while being sensitive to the use of LHT in human variations, we aimed to adopt the framework and hypothesized that high father parental involvement and accessibility would significantly cue for late age at menarche. We sampled women aged between 18 and 56 purposefully and conveniently from multiple sites in Botswana, using multiple data collection platforms in a cross-sectional study. Preliminary analysis revealed that age of menarche increases with access to (i.e., presence of) a biological father but decreases with access to a stepfather while being raised in a female-headed household is associated with reduced father’s parental involvement for female children. Further analysis using stepwise regression revealed that that access to (i.e., presence of) a stepfather in a female child’s life leads to early menarche. Given that early menarche is associated with adverse physical and mental health outcomes for female adults and access to a biological father increases fathers’ parental involvement, we conclude that dual or co-parenting may offer more developmental advantages to female children than access to a stepfather Thus, parents should strive to create family dynamics that will promote biological father involvement, where available and possible, in raising female children.