Influence of Active Father Figures Important

Swedish researchers also found that regular positive contact reduces criminal behaviour among children in low-income families and enhances cognitive skills like intelligence, reasoning and language development. The researchers are urging healthcare professionals to increase fathers’ involvement in their children’s healthcare and calling on policy makers to ensure that fathers have the chance to play an active role in their upbringing.

The review looked at 24 papers published between 1987 and 2007, covering 22,300 individual sets of data from 16 studies. 18 of the 24 papers also covered the social economic status of the families studied. The smallest study focused on 17 infants and the largest covered 8,441 individuals ranging from premature babies to 33 year-olds. They included major ongoing research from the USA and UK, together with smaller studies from Sweden and Israel.

However the authors point out that it is not possible to conclude what type of engagement the father figure needs to provide to produce positive effects. “The studies show that it can range from talking and sharing activities to playing an active role in the child’s day-to-day care”, says Dr Anna Sarkadi from the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University, Sweden.

The researchers believe that more research is needed to determine whether the outcomes are different depending on whether the child lives with their biological father or with another father figure. They feel that it is important that professionals who work with young children and their families explore how actively fathers are involved with their children from an early age.

Governments and employers also have an important role to play in ensuring that men can spend quality time with their offspring, stress the authors.; Source: Whiley Blackwell