Study: More Time With Dad Leads To Higher Self-Esteem



Here's a heartening bit of information -- teens who spend more time with their fathers have better self-esteem. A new study from Penn State University tracked 200 families for more than seven years, and found that kids who spent more time with their dads felt better about themselves than kids who didn't. And kids who spent time fathers in a group setting reported improved social skills.


Dads play a critical role in teen's development, it turns out. "The stereotype that teenagers spend all their time holed up in their rooms or hanging out with friends is, indeed, just a stereotype," said Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State and a lead on the study. "Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents' psychological and social adjustment."

One-on-one time with mom failed to show the same benefits as one-on-one time with dad, which may partly be because, generally, men spend less time with their families overall. It also may contribute to teens' self worth because dads who lavish attention on their kids are skirting stereotypical parenting norms. Because fathers often (again, stereotypically) engage in more "leisure activities," kids feel they can create a stronger bond with their paternal figures. So being the fun parent really does pay off.

The Penn State study is just one of several that shows the benefits of kids spending increased time with their parents. Kids with stronger family ties exhibit less delinquency and a stronger resistance to peer pressure. And the good news for everyone: according to a study Families and Work Institute, dads are spending more time with their kids than ever before.


--Julie Gerstein

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