The Father Factor; A Crucial Influence to Success in Later Life

By Harris, Sarah | Daily Mail (London), March 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

The Father Factor; A Crucial Influence to Success in Later Life


Harris, Sarah, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: SARAH HARRIS

THE vital role of the father in giving a child a successful future is confirmed today.

A 40-year study into the lives of thousands of volunteers concludes that close paternal involvement not only improves academic performance but also relationships and health.

The benefits were greatest for youngsters who established a strong bond from at least the age of seven.

Oxford University's Centre for Research into Parenting and Children tracked the lives of 17,000 children born in 1958, monitoring their progress at the ages of seven, 11, 16, 23 and 33.

They were given scores at each stage according to how big a part their fathers played in such pursuits as reading, helping with homework and accompanying them on outings.

The highest scorers performed best in school, socially and in their own subsequent marital relationships. Indeed, after inspection of all the factors that could influence a child's later marital success, such as mental health, academic achievement and emotional behaviour, the influence of a father was the most telling.

Daughters benefiting from a strong paternal bond were less likely to have mental health problems in later life while boys were less likely to get into trouble with the police.

Sadly, it would seem, many are still deprived of the benefit. A study out next month from the British Market Research Bureau will show that only 12 per cent of fathers are closely involved in their children's education.

Twothirds blame pressure of work for not making school meetings.

Dr Ann Buchanan. who led the Oxford research, said: 'Mothers are crucial and are the primary carers in many families. They are hugely effective in bringing up children.

'But fathers need to know that they are valued and that they are important.

If they are involved it is a bonus and has a very positive outcome for children. …

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