Oxford Uni: Emotional Dads Have Healthier Kids

23 November 2016, 10:37

Oxford University study looks into the relationships between fathers and their children.

New research from Oxford University has suggested that a father's emotional attachment and confidence in their own approach to a child's upbringing are key factors in raising children that do not suffer with behavioural issues.

With a popular assumption being that children with parents both offering a 'hands-on' approach are likely to be more stable emotionally with the constant physical presence of their parents being a positive element in their upbringing; experts at Oxford University have uncovered research that suggest it is not so much the physical availability, but the emotional availability of the father that is a defining factor.

The study was conducted by looking at indicators such as fathers being open and confident with their children and forming a strong bond that brings the entire family unit closer together as a result. Researchers concluded by saying that it is the "psychological and emotional aspects" of a father's involvement that is the most influential in their childrens' behavioural development - and not so much the amount of time they spend in the house or engaging in childcare.

Data used in the study was taken from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in South West England. The parents of more than 10,000 children at eight months living with both a mother and father were asked to complete a questionnaire about their mental health - as well as their child's. This along with attitudes to parenting and time spent caring for the children, helped to create the research stating that the emotional attachment on the paternal side "appears to be associated with positive behavioural outcomes in children."

Results showed that fathers scoring well on having an emotional response to their children and confidence in their role as a parent raised offspring up to 26% less likely to experience behavioural issues later in life than the children with fathers without as strong a bond.

Researchers give a number of ways that this result may come about, fathers that offer their partner or the person responsible for the direct care of their child instrumental and emotional support may influence the children indirectly by displaying healthy relationships and alleviating the stress of the other person - maternal depression being known to increase the risk of behavioural problems in children.