Children do better with fathers around

Children are likely to do better at school and in later life if their fathers take an active role in their upbringing, a major new study has concluded.

Children whose fathers played and read with them had higher IQs and went on to achieve greater social status than those whose fathers had little involvement, researchers at the University of Newcastle found.

The study spanned 50 years and looked at 17,000 babies born in 1958. Children and their parents were interviewed at different stages, first during the 1960s and later in 2004.

Dr Daniel Nettle, who led the research, said: “What was surprising about this research was the real sizeable difference in the progress of children who benefited from paternal interest and how thirty years later, people whose dads were involved are more upwardly mobile.

He added: “The data suggest that having a second adult involved during childhood produces benefits in terms of skills and abilities that endure throughout adult life.”

The findings emerged as MP Iain Duncan Smith warned delegates at the Conservative Party conference about the impact of family dysfunction on future generations.

Earlier this year, Mr Duncan Smith warned that many boys are turning to gang leaders and drug dealers for role models to replace absent fathers.

He also said that girls who have never known the empathetic, unconditional love of a father are left vulnerable to early, unprotected and often regretted sex.