Children of confident fathers in Massachusetts who embrace parenthood are less likely to show behavioural problems before their teenage years.
A new study from Oxford University found that a father’s emotional attachment and strong bond with a child as opposed to how much practical childcare they carried out had the strongest effect on whether a child suffered problems.
“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. Involved fathers may influence children indirectly by being a source of instrumental and emotional support to mothers who provide more of the direct care for children.
“The potential positive effect of this on mothers’ well-being and parenting strategies may then lead to better outcomes in children.
“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.
“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.”
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