Children with active fathers 'less likely' to be disturbed
Wednesday, 13 Feb 2008
Children brought up by an active father figure are less likely to develop psychological and behavioural problems, according to a new investigation.
Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have carried out a review of studies published in the US and UK between 1987 and 2007 and found that regular positive contact between a child and a father figure decreased the likelihood of children taking up smoking or being arrested.
Published in the February issue of the Acta Paediatrica journal, the study also revealed that children who lived with both a mother and father figure had less behavioural problems than those brought up solely by their mother.
Dr Anna Sarkadi from the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Uppsala University explained that children who talked regularly and shared activities with their fathers "achieved better levels of education and developed good friendships with children of both sexes".
"Long-term benefits included women who had better relationships with partners and a greater sense of mental and physical wellbeing at the age of 33 if they had a good relationship with their father at 16," she added.
Although Dr Sarkadi added that further research is needed to ascertain whether the positive outcomes depend on the father figure being the child's biological father, she added that the research "backs up the intuitive assumption that engaged biological fathers or father figures are good for children, especially when the children are socially or economically disadvantaged".
The research examined 24 papers published within the 20-year period, which covered 22,300 individual sets of data from 16 studies, the smallest of which looked at 17 children while the largest detailed 8,441 people.
The researchers hope the study will inspire governments and healthcare professionals to stress the importance of fatherly involvement in child rearing.