What was common sense for my grandmother.
Active father figures have a key role to play in reducing behaviour problems in boys and psychological problems in young women, according to a review published in the February issue of Acta Paediatrica.
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.
Children who lived with both a mother and father figure also had less behavioural problems than those who just lived with their mother.
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.
“Our detailed 20-year review shows that overall, children reap positive benefits if they have active and regular engagement with a father figure” says Dr Anna Sarkadi from the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University, Sweden.