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Reflective function (RF) is an ability to think about one's own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of others. It imparts an awareness of one's self and others and forms the basis for self-construal and human relationships. Parental RF has been shown to play an important role in parenting and to promote the development of children's RF. Research on parental RF has been mostly restricted to mothers and to early stages of development. This article reviews the existing research on paternal RF and its role at later stages of development. Although there is a paucity of research on paternal RF, there is evidence that it is significant for children's development, particularly during adolescence, and that adolescence appears to be a significant period for the development of RF. However, there is also evidence for gender differences in RF, with fathers scoring lower than mothers. Various factors may impede RF, including emotional regulation and language skills, as well as social norms and socialization practices that may perpetuate gender differences in RF. Motivation seems to be a key factor in the realization of RF, and various interventions have been developed that appear to enhance RF. Our review underscores the need for further research on paternal RF, particularly in the context of adolescence, and on the factors that may impede its development and realization. In addition, there is a need for further development and assessment of intervention programs aimed at enhancing RF at the community, family, and individual levels.

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