Children with fathers do better, say researchers

Fathers who play an active role in their children’s lives can vastly improve their wellbeing and future prospects, according to new research.

The findings, which appear in the February issue of the journal Acta Paediatrica, are based on a review by Swedish researchers.

“Our detailed 20-year review shows that overall, children reap positive benefits if they have active and regular engagement with a father figure” said Dr Anna Sarkadi from the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University, Sweden.

She added that “children who had positively involved father figures were less likely to smoke and get into trouble with the police, achieved better levels of education and developed good friendships with children of both sexes.

“Long-term benefits included women who had better relationships with partners and a greater sense of mental and physical well-being at the age of 33 if they had a good relationship with their father at 16.”

The researchers concluded that public policy should reflect the crucial role of the father: “We hope that this review will add to the body of evidence that shows that enlightened father-friendly policies can make a major contribution to society in the long run, by producing well-adjusted children and reducing major problems like crime and antisocial behaviour.”