The many benefits of hands-on dads

British Psychological Society 31 Aug 2011

Fathers who are hands-on in the raising of their children can play an important role in the intellectual and behavioural development of their offspring, new research has found. Published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, the study showed fathers can positively influence their son or daughter by being actively engaged with the little ones. Erin Pougnet, a PhD candidate in the Concordia University Department of Psychology and a member of the Centre for Research in Human Development – which has been in operation for more than 30 years – said: “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.” Ms Pougnet explained this finding is even true among socio-economically at-risk families, as a father has the ability to set appropriate limits and to influence their problem-solving abilities. She suggested dads could also play a role in a child’s emotional problems, such as anxiety, social withdrawal and sadness.