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Paternal Closeness Protects Against Negative Behaviors and Emotional Distress for Teens

Greater involvement of fathers in their families contributes positively to the emotional and intellectual well-being of their children. A child’s self-esteem, life satisfaction, and social competence are enhanced when their father exhibits supportive parenting behaviors and provides expressive affection, nurturance, interest, and companionship towards them.

  • According to a study published in the scientific journal Demography, paternal (father) involvement in families is low compared to maternal (mother) involvement. However, despite the reported low levels of paternal involvement with children in families, various studies have shown that the greater involvement of fathers in their families contributes positively to the emotional and intellectual well-being of their children. Studies have also shown that fathers can have a positive impact on their children’s long-term development. More specifically, a child’s self-esteem, life satisfaction, and social competence are enhanced when their father exhibits supportive parenting behaviors and provides expressive affection, nurturance, interest, and companionship towards them. This study was conducted by researchers in order to measure the quality and quantity of fathers’ involvement with their adolescent children in intact families over a period of time. The researchers examined the differences in the fathers’ involvement by their children’s and family characteristics and modeled the long-term effects of the fathers’ involvement on their children’s outcomes in their transition into adulthood. The researchers observed that fathers tend to experience some emotional disengagement from their children as they transition into young adulthood. However, during mid-adolescence, fathers seem to have close emotional bonds with their children and will engage in joint activities and supportive interactions to nearly the same level as do mothers. The researchers also observed that fathers seem to be more involved with their sons than with their daughters. Furthermore, aspects of the family context are important for the relationship between fathers and their children. When marital conflicts are prevalent, fathers tend to become more emotionally and behaviorally detached from their children than do mothers. Interestingly, children’s well-being is affected more by an increase in marital conflict than the level of marital conflict. Finally, the study also found that the level of the fathers’ involvement influences their children’s economic and educational achievement. Highly involved fathers promote their children’s achievements, but both high involvement and increasing closeness between fathers and their adolescents have shown to help protect adolescents from engaging in negative behaviors and experiencing emotional distress.1

1Paternal Involvement with Adolescents in Intact Families: The Influence of Fathers Over the Life Course, Demography, Vol. 35, No. 2, May 1998, pp. 201-216.

 

 


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