Fathers undeniably play a pivotal role when it comes parenting. A recent study has concluded that a dad’s positive engagement when it comes to fatherhood can decrease the chances of behavioral issues in their children.
With a new shift in family life, fathers are increasingly becoming more involved in the upbringing and care-taking of their children, versus 50 years ago. As such, a study was recently reopened taking a closer look at the impact fathers have when it comes to raising well-adjusted children.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) has been looking closely at 15,000 children since birth, with a focus on a father’s influence on their kids. The parents of over 10,000 children partook in filling out some surveys for the research, specifically looking at those kids (at age eight) who lived at home with both mom and dad.
Topics on the questionnaires covered their attitude when it comes to parenting, their child’s mental health, time spent on caring for their kiddos, details around their household’s income, their education level, as well as their child’s development and behavior.
When the children reached the ages of nine and 11, their behavior was analyzed via the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). A high score for this questionnaire would indicate the child had behavioral and emotional challenges. The SDQ survey outlined behavioral issues, emotional symptoms, relationships among peers, helpfulness, and hyperactivity.
A father’s involvement was analyzed via another survey that required these dads to rate ‘how much they agreed’ with 58 statements provided. These sentences covered differing topics that included engagement in childcare, attitudes towards parenting, time spent on household chores, relationships with their children, and the feelings they had when it came to fatherhood post-birth (eight weeks and eight months).
When the information was gathered, they were able to analyze 7,000 children at nine years of age and close to 6,500 of those same children at age 11. Three important elements were offered when it came to a significant influence on the kids’ SDQ scores:
A dad’s emotional reaction to their newborn and parenting role.
Time spent directly caring for the child, by the father.
Their confidence and adjustment to the daddy role.
In fact, their confidence level and emotional response were two elements that were highly connected with the least emotional issues for those children at nine and 11 years of age.
Moreover, dads who had a high score in the ‘emotional’ category decreased the odds by 21% and 19% of having their child receive a high SDQ score at both ages.
Medical News Today reported that fathers who had a high score in the confidence category were linked with having a 28% lower chance of their kids scoring high on their SDQ scores at both nine and 11 years of age as well.
While the team did take variable factors into consideration such as hours worked, the income of the household, and the gender of the child, there was still significant interaction. It seemed that as each unit heightened with the emotional category, there was a drop in the odds of behavioral issues by 15% for the nine-year-old participants and 12% at age 11. When it came to confidence, each unit that increased was linked to a decrease in odds by 12% at nine and 10% at 11.
While there are some shortfalls to the study, as the team notes the numbers date back 25 years (let’s face it, parenting has changed dramatically over that time), the results nonetheless are interesting; and it is undeniable that more research is needed around this topic.