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Adjusting to being a dad makes for a happy family

Dads who rapidly adjust to the novelty of parenthood make better fathers and produce children less likely to have behavioural issues in pre-teen years.
Fathers

Dads who rapidly adjust to the novelty of parenthood make better fathers and produce children less likely to have behavioural issues in pre-teen years.

Fathers confidence in their new role matters more than the number of hours they spend with their children, concludes a British Medical Journal survey of the parents of 10,440 children who were living with both their mothers and fathers at the age of 8 months.

Questionnaires concerned parental and childrens mental health, attitudes to parenting, time spent with children, and household income and education.

When children were aged 9-11 years, their behaviour was assessed.

Fathers were asked to rate their level of agreement with 58 different statements on, for example, their involvement in household chores,

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Dads who rapidly adjust to the novelty of parenthood make better fathers and produce children less likely to have behavioural issues in pre-teen years.

Fathers
Picture: iStock

Fathers’ confidence in their new role matters more than the number of hours they spend with their children, concludes a British Medical Journal survey of the parents of 10,440 children who were living with both their mothers and fathers at the age of 8 months.

Questionnaires concerned parental and children’s mental health, attitudes to parenting, time spent with children, and household income and education.

When children were aged 9-11 years, their behaviour was assessed.

Fathers were asked to rate their level of agreement with 58 different statements on, for example, their involvement in household chores, relationship with their children, how they feel about the birth of their children and their attitudes to parenting.

Incidence of behavioural problems was reduced among children whose fathers made emotional responses and who had confidence in their new role, irrespective of their age, educational achievement or household income.

Lead author Charles Opondo,who is Nuffield Department of Population Health in Oxford, suggests that the psychological and emotional aspects of paternal involvement in children’s infancy influence later child behaviour more than the amount of time fathers engage in childcare or domestic tasks in the home.

Reference
  • Opondo C et al (2016) Father involvement in early child-rearing and behavioural outcomes in their pre-adolescent children: evidence from the ALSPAC UK birth cohort. BMJ Open. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012034

Tim Harrison is a freelance writer

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