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'Confident' dads raise well-behaved teens

AAP logoAAP 23/11/2016 Sarah Wiedersehn

Dads who adjust emotionally well to parenthood early reap the rewards when their children become teens, according to new research.

A large cohort study of more than 15,000 UK children and parents, published in journal BMJ Open, found babies raised by "confident" dads were less likely to grow up to have behavioural problems in the run-up to their teens.

"Psychological and emotional aspects of paternal involvement in children's early upbringing, particularly how new fathers see themselves as parents and adjust to the role, rather than the quantity of direct involvement in childcare, is associated with positive behavioural outcomes in children," the authors of the study wrote.

Traditionally, the role of fathers has been seen as 'provider' but that has changed in recent years as more and more mums work.

Many fathers now equally share the parenting duties but there has been little research to show what impact a dad's attitudes to parenting and their relationship to their child might have later on in life.

As part of the University of Oxford study, a father's involvement was measured using a comprehensive questionnaire that asked them about their attitudes to parenting; time spent on childcare; their child's behaviour and development; as well as details of household income/education.

The behavioural problems among the children were measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionanaire (SDQ).

It was found children of fathers with high scores to the emotional response questions were 14 per cent less likely to have behavioural problems by the age of nine.

There was no association found between behavioural outcomes and the frequency of a fathers' involvement in domestic and childcare activities.

While the results don't show cause and effect, only that a link exists, the authors say the findings could help inform policies aimed at improving the upbringing of children and family life.

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