BOYS WITH low self-esteem suffer from "Dad Deficit" - a low level of emotional support from their fathers, according to a survey published yesterday.
Lack of paternal involvement is linked to a son's poor opinion of himself, his "anti-school" attitudes and a tendency to get into trouble with the police, the nationwide survey of 1,400 boys between the ages of 13 and 19 indicated.
However, it is unclear which comes first - the low self-esteem or the "Dad Deficit". Independent research suggests that fathers find it easier to be close to sons who they perceive as successful and that their increased interest feeds into the son's confidence. Researchers measured the level of interaction between fathers and sons by how much time they spend together, how much interest the father pays to the son's schoolwork, and to what extent the father is willing to talk through the son's worries. At one end of the scale was the "Dad Deficit" (DD) and, at the other extreme, the "Highly Involved Man" (HIM), whose supportive influence proved disproportionately positive. HIM fathering was as effective regardless of whether the man lived at home or was the biological father. Adrienne Katz, the author of the study, "Leading Lads", wants to encourage men who come into contact with boys, be they fathers, teachers, youth workers or sports coaches, to be more aware of their responsibility. "Men don't seem to understand the power of their input," she said yesterday."Boys are much less likely to turn to a friend than girls and so they need emotional support from the family. If a father models behaviour which never talks about feelings, it is hard for a boy to seek help if he's depressed or troubled. …