Washington: Fathers who are actively involved in raising their children, even if they don’t live with them, can help make their offspring smarter and better behaved, according to a new research.
“Fathers make important contributions in the development of their children’s behaviour and intelligence,” says Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development (CRDH).
“Compared with other children with absentee dads, kids whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behaviour problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older — even among socio-economically at-risk families,” she added.
“Regardless of whether fathers lived with their children, their ability to set appropriate limits and structure their children’s behaviour positively influenced problem-solving and decreased emotional problems, such as sadness, social withdrawal and anxiety,” continues Pougnet.
A total of 138 children and their parents took part in the study and were assessed by researchers in three separate sessions.
Kids were evaluated between the ages of three- to five-years-old and again from nine to 13-years-old. They completed intelligence tests, while their mothers completed questionnaires on home environment and couple conflict.
The study found girls to be most affected by absentee dads, although the researchers caution that paternal absence can foster other problems such as lack of support or discipline.
“Girls whose fathers were absent during their middle childhood had significantly higher levels of emotional problems at school than girls whose fathers were present,” Pougnet said.
The study has been published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science.