Bond with dad key to well-adjusted kids
Children whose dads adjust well to parenthood and are emotionally involved may be less likely to have behavioural issues later on in life, according to a new study from the Oxford University.
The study found it was how fathers saw themselves as parents in the child’s early years, rather than the amount of child care they gave, that was important.
More than 10,000 families in England, who had children aged eight months old, were asked to complete a questionnaire about their mental health, attitudes to parenting, time spent on child care, their child’s development and behaviour and details of household income.
Markers including emotional response and confidence in a father’s new role was most strongly associated with lower odds of behavioural problems when their children reached nine and 11 years old.
The researchers found it was the psychological and emotional aspects of a father’s involvement in a child’s infancy that were the most powerful in influencing a child’s behaviour in later years.
“How new fathers see themselves as parents, how they value their role as a parent and how they adjust to this new role, rather than the amount of direct involvement in childcare in this period, appears to be associated with positive behavioural outcomes in children,” the researchers said.
“Positive parenting by fathers may contribute to good outcomes in children in a number of ways,” they said.
They said fathers being involved in the upbringing of children provided instrumental and emotional support to the mothers, which could have a positive effect of this on mothers' well-being and parenting strategies.
“There is evidence that fathers' involvement can also alleviate the impact of factors such as maternal depression which are known to increase children's risk of behavioural problems,” the researchers said.
“Greater paternal involvement may also lead to or be a manifestation of a happy and cohesive family, and this may bring about better outcomes in children.”