Dr. Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate with the department of psychology at Concordia University in Montréal, has some interesting finding for fathers. New data published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science this recent July, found that fathers play a key role in their children’s intellect, cognitive and behavioural development in their young children.
The following is a summary of an article published by Megan Brooks.
During the course of this very lengthy study, Dr. Pougnet and her researchers found that children whose fathers were present and involved in the day-to-day activities of their children during middle childhood had fewer behavioural problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew, regardless of socio-economic status.
She stated that: “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.”
Dr. Pougnet examined the association between the father’s presence and availability in the home, and the children’s subsequent cognitive and behavioural functioning.
The children in the study completed a questionnaire between the ages of 3 and 5, and again, between the ages of 9 and 13.
Subsequently, their parents completed questionnaires regarding home life, parenting and couple conflict. Further information was also gathered by the children’s school teachers regarding behaviour in school.
The study demonstrated a strong need for fathers involvement in their children’s development and well-being, especially true for girls. Fathers that demonstrated a strong presence during the middle childhood off their daughters demonstrated a much lower tendency to internalize problems in preadolescence.
“Girls whose fathers lived with them when they were in the middle childhood (ages 6 to 10) demonstrated less sadness, worry and shyness at school as pre-teens (ages 9 to 13) compared with girls who fathers did not live with them. The same was not true for boys,” said Pougnet.
They found that a fathers positive parental control resulted in higher performance IQ scores and fewer internalizing problems more than six years later.
The study also demonstrated that fathers with more negative parenting styles during the children’s younger years and who were absent when their children were between 6 to 10 years of age, had children with more internalizing problems at ages 9 to 13.
However, she was careful to say that a father’s absence from the home does not necessarily mean that he’s absent from his children’s lives and can still have a positive outcome.
She made the following comment: “There are countless other things that factor into child development, notably mothers, who have been shown in a huge amount of research to have a very important influence on their children.
“The more that both parents can show parenting skills, such as setting up consistent expectations for their children’s behaviour, appropriate limit setting, and the effective use of rewards and consequences to structure and guide their child’s behaviour, the better for the child’s intellectual and emotional development.”
If you’re a father of young children, be careful not to invalidate your role when it comes to considering the ripple effect of your day-to-day activities with your children.
Don’t get me wrong, in our home my wife is still the brains of the operation, but my ‘Daddy hat’ just a little bigger.
Markus Thiel is a chiropractor practicing in Kelowna.