Children of confident fathers who embrace parenthood are less likely to show behavioural problems before their teenage years, researchers have found.
A new study suggests that a man’s attitudes towards fatherhood soon after his child’s birth, as well as his feelings of security as a father and partner, are more important than his involvement in childcare and household chores when it came to influencing a child’s later behaviour.
“It is the emotional connection and the emotional response to actually being a parent that matters enormously in relation to later outcomes for children,” said Maggie Redshaw, a developmental and health psychologist at the University of Oxford and co-author of the research.
Traditionally, research on child development has been focused on mothers, their parenting and mental health, while fathers’ role is often overlooked. The findings that fathers’ perception of their role and their confidence as a father are important influences could prove valuable when it comes to supporting new parents. This, potentially, has significant implications for policy, as well as parenting and health interventions that should encourage fathers’ involvement from early on in infancy and help fathers to become confident, emotionally engaged parents.
– Nicola Davis