The study, which was conducted by researchers at Concordia University and published in the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, found that the children of dads who were more involved in their upbringing and who used positive parenting skills tended to have fewer behavioural problems, and did better in intelligence tests - and the findings stood regardless of whether the dads actually lived with their children or not.
One of the study's lead authors, Erin Pougnet told the Montreal Gazette that compared with other children with absentee dads, children whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behaviour problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older - even among socio-economically, at-risk families.
She added that 'regardless of whether fathers live with their children, fathers who displayed positive parenting skills were more likely to have emotionally well-adjusted children and children who are better problem solvers later on.'
The researchers studied 138 children and their families from inner-city neighbourhoods in Montreal and evaluated the youngsters when they were three to five and again when they were between nine and 13. The children undertook intelligence tests and their mums completed questionnaires about their home environments.
The authors accounted for scenarios such as income, home life and parents' education level before analysing their findings, and concluded that children who had involved fathers were more likely to score higher on problem-solving tasks. They also had decreased emotional problems such as sadness, social withdrawal and anxiety in school. Girls were found to be the most affected by absentee fathers.
The paper, Fathers' Influence on Children's Cognitive and Behavioural Functioning, was co-authored by Pougnet, Serbin, Dale M. Stack and Alex E. Schwartzman of Montreal's Concordia University.
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