It’s no secret that fathers play an important role in their children’s lives, but a new study finds that a father’s attitude is everything when it comes to reducing the likelihood that children will suffer from behavioral problems as pre-teens.
Writing in the journal BMJ Open, the authors concluded that the findings suggest that a father’s emotional involvement has a greater impact on children’s behavior than time spent performing practical childcare duties.
Strong bond in early 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 factors most strongly associated with lower odds of behavioral problems at age 9 and 11 were a father's enthusiasm and confidence in his role. Dads who showed these markers of involvement were 28% likely to later have pre-teens with behavioral problems.
"A high quality of involvement with children, right from their infancy and continuing through childhood, helps establish a solid foundation for good outcomes later on in life," said lead researcher Charles Opondo.
"For fathers, positive involvement goes beyond child-care activities; feeling good about being a dad, making an emotional connection to children, and establishing a secure parenting relationship with mothers are perhaps even more important."